Following his meeting with the US president on Monday on the sidelines of G20 meeting, Vladimir Putin said that he had “grounds to believe” that results on Syria may be achieved “within the next few days”, however specifying no details of his talks with Barack Obama.
The French news site Atlantico sat down with former French intelligence senior officer, director of the French Center for Research and Intelligence (CF2R) Alain Rodier to find out what could have given the Russian leader such a certainty.
“Undeniably, the Americans are the biggest losers in the latest developments in Syria since Turkey has launched its ‘Shield of the Euphrates’ operation,” former French intelligence senior officer told the website.
He further explained that the US has found itself obliged to support Ankara against the Kurds, whom it previously considered the major and the only backbone in the fight against Daesh.
“The Syrian Kurds are the only ones on the ground who have the will and the wish to confront the violent Islamist fanatics however Washington was forced to immolate them to the friendly relationship with Turkey, the country of major geo-strategic importance in the Middle East and, incidentally, the second largest standing military force in NATO,” he said.
The expert noted that President Obama has practically no room for maneuvering now and he can only “take one day at a time” while “preparing his golf clubs for a well-deserved” retirement.
Right away at the start of his first presidential term the US leader was awarded Nobel Peace Prize, which could have now raised a smile on the faces of many if not for such dramatic developments, Rodier said.
However at such a pace, the 44th US president has all the chances to be canonized in future, the expert ironically added.
At the same time, the French expert suggested, President Putin might have been warned beforehand about Ankara’s plans and is now on top of the situation, watching the US’ reaction.
“Do not try to make us believe that he [President Putin] had not been informed about the ‘Shield of the Euphrates’ operation,” Rodier told the website.
“It would have been an insult to the SVR, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, whose great skills and aggressiveness has been dinned into our ears,” he said.
Besides, the expert suggested, there might have been an agreement between Moscow and Ankara that the Turkish aviation refrains from going too far to the south in order not to “tickle” the Russian pilots who are still harboring a grudge against the Turkish pilots who shot down the Russian Su-24 in November 2015.
Rodier’s view is echoed by Fox News national security analyst Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland who has also said that President Obama is being played by the Russian president.
“Played by Vladimir Putin, played by the Russians, played by the Chinese, played by the North Koreans, played by the Iranians. The US does bear a good bit of the blame because they’ve allowed themselves to get blamed and played,” she said in the recent live broadcast on Fox News.
The “Leading from behind” strategy of President Obama has now started to show dividends: the US has been left behind and is being pushed around, she said.
“We are deluding ourselves by thinking that we are players in the Middle East,” the analyst said.
There are two sides left in the Middle East, she further explained. One is a side that is Russia, Iran and Assad.
“We are saying no, Assad has to go,” the analyst said.
The second side is ISIS (Daesh) and nobody is for them, she added.
The US is somehow this “mythical third force,” she said: “we want Assad to go, we want to defeat ISIS, but we can’t be standing there all by ourselves stuck in the middle of this civil war.”
McFarland further noted that the US in really not in a position to play in the Middle East any more, it has “ceded” this position to the Russians and to the Iranians.
The problems of the Middle East are not going to be solved by President Obama or even Secretary Kerry or even potential president Clinton.
“The Russians are running circles around the US foreign policy at this point,” she finally stated.
Commenting on the further developments in Syria, Alain Rodier suggested that even though Turkish President Erdogan has welcomed the fact that the Turkish-Syrian border had been cleared of terrorists, it does not mean that Ankara will limit itself to the near-border territories.
Turkey’s aim is not to allow the set-up of the Syrian Kurdistan, the Rojava, along its border, he said.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, which largely consist of the Kurds, are only few hundred kilometers away from the province of Afrin, the westernmost of the four cantons of Rojava.
The key point on the way is the city of al-Bab, populated predominantly by the Sunni Arabs, which the Kurds therefore have to take and Turkey – to prevent them from taking it.
“What we are witnessing there is the race against time from both sides and nobody could be sure what it will lead to,” the expert said.
Meanwhile, the large powers are closely watching the developments.
Rodier suggested that there might be new “strategic surprises”, as President Erdogan has already got everyone used to his unexpected U-turns.
However it looks like Syria is heading towards its partition, which is being vocally condemned but “mandated by the facts.”
“The problem is that absolutely all parties to the Syrian military conflict are far from being morally flawless”, the expert said.
It is true not only for the terrorists and Daesh torturers, he added, but also for the regime of Bashar Assad. However since there is no chance to win this war, the only way is to make a deal.
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