I see Putin is one step ahead again on Syria. At least one step. Maybe four.
So, Moscow puts it about that Assad is willing to hold fresh elections. The Russians know this would be impossible given the current situation, but that’s not really the point. He’s looking ahead to when the exhausted warring parties can begin to think of negotiations.
Having made themselves diplomatically indispensable by entering the fray militarily, the Russians are now pushing forward with the diplomacy. How reasonable of them to back democracy amid all this chaos!
Now, if the Fars News Agency is to be believed, the Russian offer to bomb ISIS targets in Iraq has been accepted by Baghdad’s National Security and Defense Commission. Why, there’s even a joint information centre already set up to co-ordinate military action between Russia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. But hang on. Didn’t the Americans tell us that Russia was isolated when it came to Syria…?
Moscow has so far forced the USA, the UK, France, Germany, and Turkey to make gear crunching hand brake turns on policy and accept that President Assad can stay on as Syrian lader for an unspecified ‘interim’ period once a peace deal is put together. Putin now needs those powers to work on the Gulf States to do the same (a harder proposition)
If successful, Assad has a place at the table for negotiations, and at that place will sit alongside the Russians and Iranians, all safeguarding their interests.
The likely proposal? A ‘federal state’ ala Iraq. And in that federal state there would be an Alawite region, and in that region, there would be theTartus port and the Latakia airport – and there, sitting on the Med, would be the Russian military. Also holding onto Damascus, the roads to the coast, and those to Lebanon’s Beka’a valley would mean the Iranians would be satisfied, although that would be more difficult to negotiate than a simple Alawite enclave confined to the coastal region.
It might never happen, but hey – it’s a plan, and right now that seems more than anyone else has.