President Barack Obama meets with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Mexico, June 18, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Old Game, New Rules -- Stefano Casertano, The European
US hegemony in the Middle East will not be safeguarded by military interventions. The Syrian crisis proves that today’s global game of power can only be won through clever tactics. Time to learn from the Russians.
For better or worse, the US defeat in the Syrian issue is not a sign of any “decaying hegemony” of the US in the Middle East. It is rather the mere result of a strategic game, egregiously played by Russia, and partially mismanaged by Washington. For better or worse, Russia has succeeded at cornering the US and any outcome of the Syrian conflict can and will be counted as an American defeat. If the dictator Bashar al-Assad stays, the US lose; if the Sunni rebels win, the government will be coerced by Islamists. If a democratic coalition wins – which would certainly be an artificial product of the West – it would require a couple of decades of foreign military presence to avoid massive bloodshed (if that is even possible). Put simply: The US will be damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.
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My Comment: The Russians are not getting their hands dirty in protecting their Syrian ally Bashar Assad .... they are letting others do their dirty work (Iran, Hezbollah, etc.). But while this strategy may be working for Russia now .... I have doubts that it is sustainable in the long run. Hezbollah and Iran are being bled dry by the Syrian civil war, and with no end in sight are probably wondering how they can extradite themselves from such a mess. The Syrian military has been able to make advances .... but only because of this Iran-Hezbollah assistance in providing personnel and weapons .... would they be able to accomplish the same gains if Iran and Hezbollah were not involved .... I doubt it. Also .... countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar are starting to ship heavy weapons to the Syrian rebels .... this will definitely change the strategic balance in the conflict. So .... in the sort term Russia appears to be holding the cards, but as the conflict continues I expect the dynamics on the ground (and Russia's role in it) will be changing dramatically.