Putin's Victory Relieves Obama

After all is said and done, Putin gave the U.S. a lesson in strategy and diplomacy. At an unexpected moment, using perfect timing, Moscow with an unanticipated chess move succeeded in turning the dynamic entirely in its favor.

According to the agreement reached between the U.S. and Russia in Geneva, Syria will turn over its chemical weapons to the supervision of the United Nations; in the long term they will be destroyed. This is what we call a happy ending.

The details are uncertain, but who cares?

In the eyes of the international community, with this agreement Russia has earned the title of a country that stopped a war. Putin is now seen as a leader who found a peaceful solution using a creative formula. This leader’s flattening of Chechnya and his invasion of Georgia remind us all what kind of peaceful reflexes Putin, the angel of peace, actually has. And what about Washington? Obama seems to be happy with the situation because it saves him from being embarrassed in Congress.

If Russia hadn’t gone into action, the Senate and the House of Representatives would have gone to a vote and Obama wouldn’t have found the support for which he was looking. Yes, maybe in that case Obama would have been saved from having to enter a war that he didn’t want, but at the same time, he would have lost whatever charisma and credibility he had left. However, now Obama can put the Syria dossier back on the shelf with peace of mind and focus on the domestic problems in which he is actually interested. In the meantime, in regard to the new diplomatic process that was aimed at the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, Obama will create a narrative in an attempt to win credit for himself, stating, “If we hadn’t threatened military intervention, this process wouldn’t have started.”

Of course, the other satisfied party is the Syrian regime. Assad, who was awaiting bombardment, is now gaining international legitimacy thanks to Putin. He will go on crushing the domestic resistance at will without using chemical weapons. While a civil war is continuing at full speed in his country, Assad will be able to play a cat and mouse game with United Nations inspectors.

If he is evasive, what will happen? This issue is very vague. Most likely Assad, laughing to himself, will think, “We’ve seen how determined and serious the U.S. is when it comes to the issue of a military intervention.” In conclusion, Washington, Moscow and Damascus are happy with the situation. We need to add Iran and Hezbollah to this list as well. With the Syrian regime gaining international legitimacy and the U.S. shelving the military operation, they too can take a deep breath. Otherwise they would have been making reprisals against the United States and been embroiled in a clash that they had no designs of entering.

Who, then, are the losers? First on the list is the resistance movement in Syria. Nations that supported the resistance, like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even France and England, have also been hurt by going along with the United States in this process. Israel, of course, is also on that list. Netanyahu held the American red line on Syria in parallel to the red line placed on Iran. That is why the Israel lobby put heavy pressure on the House of Representatives in the last week. However with Russia’s diplomatic victory, the situation has completely changed. Obama’s loss of credibility on the topic of Syria will reflect badly on the balance of relations between Iran and Israel. In conclusion, Putin’s move made things easier for Obama on the domestic front, but the Middle East will continue to be in a precarious situation.

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