As Russia and Iran move in more overtly on Syria, it’s important to understand that their objective is not to prop up a weak, dependent Bashar al-Assad. Doing that is a convenience. Assad functions now as a fig leaf for the real objective of his long-time patrons: establishing effective control of the territory of Syria.
The Western media will probably keep saying, by rote, that Russia and Iran are supporting Assad – just as they will keep saying that the U.S. coalition is battling Islamic State. But there’s a reason for the “why this summer; why right now” behind Russia’s seemingly sudden strategic move on Syria. And it’s not the superficial motives being attributed to Russia or Iran.
There are two interlocking catalysts for Russia’s decision to intervene actively, just at this moment. One is the U.S.-Turkey partnership “against ISIS,” which became active in late July, and immediately resulted in Turkey attacking not ISIS, but Kurds in Syria and Iraq. Continue reading “Syria: You know this isn’t about Assad anymore, right?”