New York Times: Military Success in Syria Gives Putin Upper Hand in U.S. Proxy War
WASHINGTON — The Syrian military was foundering last year, with thousands of rebel fighters pushing into areas of the country long considered to be government strongholds. The rebel offensive was aided by powerful tank-destroying missiles supplied by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia.
Intelligence assessments circulated in Washington that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, was losing his grip on power.
But then the Russians arrived, bludgeoning C.I.A.-backed rebel forces with an air campaign that has sent them into retreat. And now rebel commanders, clinging to besieged neighborhoods in the divided city of Aleppo, say their shipments of C.I.A.-provided antitank missiles are drying up.
For the first time since Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Russian military for the past year has been in direct combat with rebel forces trained and supplied by the C.I.A. The American-supplied Afghan fighters prevailed during that Cold War conflict. But this time the outcome — thus far — has been different.
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WNU Editor: U.S. policy on Syria has been half-hearted, disorganised, and confusing since day one. I suspect that this has more to do with President Obama's decision to limit U.S. involvement in Syria, and to leave much of the hard decisions and Syrian rebel support to America's allies in the region .... primarily Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. But while Russia may be winning this proxy war .... I am not optimistic about the long term. This is a conflict that is going to last for years, and even if the Syrian regime of Assad does win the major battles, a low intensity conflict .... such as what has been seen in Iraq since the 2003 invasion .... is probably going to be the final outcome.