A very brief point I wish to make.
You are going to see a lot of headlines like this in American and European news outlets considering the deterioration of NATO-Russian relations. While I personally am not a fan of the present Russian state, I must re-iterate that they are getting Syria as right as they got the Ukraine wrong.
You see, Daesh in Syria is the scariest faction, but not the only scary faction. Well, technically they are all scary but you know what I mean. But in order to see the logic of Russian airstrikes in Syria you have to look at several maps of Syria. Take a somewhat up to date map of the conflict itself like so:
(Hope you don’t mind me using your map dude/dudette!)
Now take a look at population (and thus also major city) concentrations, geographically:
Granted, 1979 census (it was the most photogenic) but even much more up to date ones show the same general distribution.
So, let us look at this strategically shall we? The largest and most capable ground force which could do the most damage to Daesh is the Syrian Arab Army. It is integral to any serious victory over the radicals no matter how much NATO wants to still pretend this can be a three-way war. This means the government must be strong and capable of holding most of the countries’ population centers.
What threatens that right now is not Daesh, but the FSA, Al Nusra, and others. Al Nusra, by the way, is a goddamn Al Qaeda affiliate. That’s right, the Pentagon is now complaining that Russian bombs are hitting Al Qaeda and their allies. This is the world we live in now.
So in the long game, we all want Daesh taken out, but the government is going to have to recapture more territory, specifically in the north-west, to do so. America shouldn’t complain that Russia is doing their own work for them for free, while also blocking a chance for the US to admit its Syria policy errors and open up real dialogue with Damascus.
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