Russia’s Role in Syria Offers New Opportunities Over Failed US Policy

© WikipediaUS troops board a helicopter in Afghanistan
US troops board a helicopter in Afghanistan - Sputnik International
Opportunities for US-Russian cooperation in Syria are extensive to defeat the Islamic State and resolve the Syrian crisis, US experts told Sputnik following Tuesday’s meeting of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama at the UN General Assembly.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Putin and Obama agreed to start a dialogue between the two governments to ensure that Russian and US military forces will not come in conflict in Syria as they battle the Islamic State and other extremists.

"How far can [the US-Russian cooperation] go? It can go very far. It is a rich field to plow," veteran European affairs analyst Patrick Smyth told Sputnik on Tuesday.

US policymakers and the public alike should welcome the Russian engagement in Syria, because US policies over the past four years had only served to increase the chaos and suffering in Syria, the analyst noted.

Some 250,000 people have been killed and 11 million made homeless, four million of them as international refugees, since the Syrian civil war started in 2011.

"We [the United States] have got nowhere in four years in Syria," Smyth admitted. "We do a lot of things but they don’t amount to a policy."

By contrast, he said, the intervention that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced earlier this month was focused, coherent and implemented in a realistic way.

"Putin has a sound policy. Russian policy is not open-ended or lawless."

The policy is sound, he added, because it will "preserve what we have to work with in terms of remaining stable institutions in Syria."

However, US policy of building up a still insignificant and chaotic Syrian secular opposition force has failed to produce either law and order or a credible alternative to the government of President Bashar Assad.

"If we have a political strategy, I do not see what it is," Smyth noted.

Russia, Smyth suggested, would be able to work effectively with surviving significant powers in the region.

"Putin can talk to Assad — we can’t. Putin can put men and ordnance on the ground without a whole lot of encumbrance. We can’t. Putin can talk to the Iranians. We can’t."

He further claimed that US policymakers would have to recognize that they could best play a constructive role by letting Russia take the diplomatic lead in Syria.

"The reality is: We are going to have to get on Russia’s team. We are not leading this. That is going to be Putin."

Retired US Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor also welcomed Russia’s intervention in Syria since, he argued, it would give the United States an opportunity to extradite itself from the growing chaos there.

"Off-loading the Middle East is the best thing that could happen to the American people."

But Russia, like the United States before it, must be aware of the risk and not get bogged down in the Middle East, Macgregor cautioned.

"We Americans should disengage entirely from the Middle East, sit back and watch the fireworks. We have no interests that justify the wasteful expenditures in US resources we’ve made over the last 25 years."

The Pentagon reportedly is suspending its $500 million training program for the Syrian opposition. The first class of 54 fighters was overrun quickly, while the second almost immediately surrendered its weapons and vehicles to the al-Qaeda terrorist group.

© AFP 2023 / GEORGE OURFALIANSyrian government forces drive a tank on a road in the Maysar neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on July 29, 2015
Syrian government forces drive a tank on a road in the Maysar neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on July 29, 2015 - Sputnik International
Syrian government forces drive a tank on a road in the Maysar neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on July 29, 2015
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