Washington Post: we lost all our cards at the game in Syria

Dennis Ross, a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute, said in an aticle published by the Washington Post that :”Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result may not meet the clinical definition of insanity, but it’s still a pretty good standard.

It also happens to define both President Barack Obama’s and President Trump’s approaches to working with Russia on the Syrian civil war.

Washington and Moscow have repeatedly issued joint statements outlining principles for addressing the conflict and reducing its horrific humanitarian consequences.

Yet over and over again, the Russians have betrayed their commitments.”  Ross added that Trump has made his own attempts to get somewhere with the Russians. On the margins of the Group of 20 summit in Germany in July 2017, he and Putin finalized a cease-fire agreement for southwestern Syria. Trump met again with Putin in November at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, where they issued another joint statement on Syria.

It emphasized the “importance of de-escalation areas as an interim step to reduce violence in Syria, and the enforce cease-fire agreements,” on the basis of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254.  Then the writer asks: “So how did the Russians act after that? Along with the Syrian Arab army and the Iranians, they waged military campaigns and controlled three of the four de-escalation areas. The fourth, the one Trump and Putin had agreed to in southwestern Syria, remained quiet.”

According to Ross, “President Assad and the Russians returned to this region on June 21, and the response of the US State Department was a warning of (serious repercussions of these violations) but the Russians intensified their bombing. Did Moscow face any “serious repercussions”? No — only Trump’s pursuit of a summit with Putin.

Neither Obama nor Trump has been prepared to impose any consequences on the Russians. Both wanted out of Syria, not to be embroiled in it ,and both permitted Putin to become the arbiter of events. So what should Trump do when he and Putin meet in Helsinki on July 16?”

Ross advises trump to act happy and convey the following points: the United States will maintain its small presence in Syria until the Islamic State is gone; that unless Iran’s continuing entrenchment in Syria is contained, it will trigger a wider war between Israel and the Iranians; and that we will back the Israelis completely, making it in Putin’s interest to stop the expansion of the Iranians and their proxies in Syria and prevent a major regional escalation.

Trump might even suggest that the Russians broker a set of red lines between the Israelis and Iranians in Syria. the writer concluded the article by saying : ” Indeed, Trump could also ask Putin to be his channel to the Iranians.

Apart from limiting the potential for miscalculation with Tehran, it could give Putin a stake in coordinating with us on Iran. With the United States having already conceded Syria to Russia, history tells us we are unlikely to achieve more.”

  • Source: ” shaamtimes”



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