Putin’s Syria Strategy

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Putin’s Syria Strategy
by Stephen Lendman
Washington has its own strategy. Unable to challenge or compromise Putin’s real war on terror, it’s drawing him into a so-called anti-ISIS coalition, pretending it wants the scourge it created eliminated.
Paul Craig Roberts fears he may “turn Assad’s fate over to the West” in return for a free hand to combat ISIS and prevent its spread to Central Asia and Russia.
Last week, Der Spiegel headlined “Putin Plan: The Russian President’s Strategy for Syria,” saying it obtained an internal document, outlining his five-point plan for resolving Syria’s conflict.
He personally “drafted the paper together with his advisors shortly after the surprise (sic) visit to Moscow by dictator (sic) Bashar Assad on Oct. 21.”
Fact: Assad is no “dictator.” He was overwhelmingly reelected president in June 2014 – a process independent international monitors judged open, free and fair. He remains hugely popular. Syrians want no one else leading them.
Fact: His Moscow visit was unannounced, not a surprise, kept secret until he safely returned home – for obvious security reasons.
He was warmly treated on arrival and during his stay. Both leaders share common objectives. According to Der Spiegel, Putin’s “central goal” is preventing “terrorists from seizing power in Syria” – retaining its sovereignty, “its territorial integrity,” as well as “secular and democratic state” status.
Der Spiegel claiming Western nations share these objectives is polar opposite reality. Washington, Britain and France want Assad ousted, Syria transformed into a US or NATO-controlled vassal state, wracked by endless conflict and chaos like all nations where Washington intervenes.
Der Spiegel says Putin wants a process initiated, leading to “elections and a reform of the constitution that would create a fair balance in terms of the rights and duties of all ethnic and religious groups.”
He doesn’t insist Assad remain president. He wants Syrians alone deciding, not outside powers. A second document calls for delayed parliamentary elections, not in 18 months as publicly announced after Vienna conference discussions in late October and mid-November.
It supports holding them simultaneously with a new presidential election, after constitutional changes are approved – likely by national referendum, the same process Assad followed in 2012.
Both documents show what Putin supported throughout over four-and-a-half years of conflict – wanting it resolved diplomatically, Syrians alone deciding their future, a democratic process involving all its citizens, free from outside interference.
US and Russian objectives are polar opposite. Can the circle be squared? Don’t expect Washington to bend. Compromise isn’t in its vocabulary. Duplicity defines how it negotiates.
Putin’s documents urge the formation of a “Syria Support Group” – including permanent Security Council members, the EU, Germany and key Middle East states.
He’s committed to combat the scourge of terrorism for as long as it takes to accomplish his objectives – above all preventing its spread to Central Asia and Russia.
Will he hold firm on retaining Syrian sovereignty, its citizens alone deciding who’ll lead them – or sacrifice this objective in return for a free hand to combat ISIS and other terrorist groups?
His aerial combat mission is virtually unchallenged now, controlling Syrian air space, battering ISIS and other terrorists’ positions freely, aiding Syrian ground forces, letting them to recapture lost territory.
His formidable weapons and commitment to use them gives Washington and rogue NATO allies pause about challenging him militarily. 
Why would he end support for Syrian sovereign independence when he’s stood steadfast behind it so far – morally, ethically and strategically the right thing to do? 
He’s forthrightly against America extending its regional hegemonic control, leaving Iran isolated if successful in toppling Assad – Russia losing its sole Mediterranean naval facility in Tartus, a location it wants retained. 
He’ll have no choice whatever deal Washington may offer. US concessions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Earlier promises not to extend NATO east, incorporating former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries, were systematically breached. US policymakers can’t be trusted. They say one thing and do another – consistently. 
Putin’s best strategy is holding firm on combatting the scourge of terrorism, along with supporting Syrian sovereignty without compromise – the best way to beat America’s dirty game, especially allied with China, a formidable anti-imperial alliance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.