With each passing day, the opportunity for the West and the Sunni axis to have some say in Syria’s political future slips away. As we’ve said on a number of occasions, Russia isn’t going to risk the lives of her troops and spend who knows how many tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars only to have the West dictate the terms of any political “transition” which may or may not take place once the smoke has cleared.
Indeed, several Western powers and some of the regional backers of the Sunni extremist groups battling the regime have already admitted that Assad may have to remain in power during a “transitional” period.
Now that Iranian ground troops are poised to take Aleppo in what amounts to a final push to restore Assad’s grip over the country, The Kremlin is already looking at how to go about shaping the country’s political future as Assad traveled to Moscow in what the media says is his first foreign visit since the start of the civil war. At a meeting with Putin, the two leaders discussed the “political process” and reviewed the progress in the fight against “international terrorists.”
Sputnik News Agency reports…
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad met in Moscow on Tuesday evening to discuss questions regarding the Russian air force and Syrian army operation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
Russia launched its aerial operation against terrorist group targets in Syria on September 30. Since then, the Syrian military launched a series of offensives against the groups across the country. At the talks, Assad said that any military action also presumes further political measures to resolve the Syrian crisis.
“We are ready to do what we can, not only in the military action to fight terrorism in Syria, but also in the political process,” Putin said in a statement published on the Kremlin website.
Assad thanked the Russian leadership for its aid to Syria, saying that it stands for Syria’s unity and independence.
“The terrorism which now spread in the region would have taken much greater areas and spread to an even greater territory if it was not for your actions and your decisions,” Assad said.
Putin also thanked Syria’s people for their contribution to the fight against terror. He noted that Russia is worried because at least 4,000 fighters from the former Soviet Union are fighting alongside terrorist groups in Syria.
“The Syrian people has practically alone resisted and fought international terrorism for several years now, suffering heavy losses, but recently also achieving serious, positive results in this fight,” Putin said.
The talks were held in both a limited and an expanded format, also touching on topics including bilateral relations and prospective plans for economic reconstruction.
“Naturally, the questions [were about] the fight against terrorist extremist groups, questions regarding the continuation of supporting offensive actions of the Syrian armed forces,” Peskov said.
According to Putin’s spokesman, members of Russia’s upper leadership took part in the expanded format of the talks and “the talks were quite long and the topic of negotiations was completely clear.”
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And so, just as we said from the beginning, Moscow’s move to muscle the West out of the way militarily has led directly to Russia hijacking the political negotiations as well.
In short: Washington and its regional allies will be allowed to participate in a discussion with The Kremlin, but that’s as far as it goes. Russia will decide Syria’s political future in consultation with Iran and given the strategic importance for Tehran of ensuring that there’s a “friendly” government operating in Damascus, you can bet that whatever the solution ends up being, Washington, Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha will most assuredly not like it.
To the victor go the spoils.
For now, we’ll close with one quote from Sergei Karaganov, dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, and one amusing picture which we’ll leave it to readers to caption (note the ear-to-ear grins).
“The message to the world is that Russia solves problems and you don’t. If you want to solve problems, work with us.”