The expanded interventions of Russia and Iran into the Syrian Civil War have shifted the trajectory of the conflict in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, granting him the strongest position on the battlefield as of February 24, 2016.
The Syrian regime, with Russia’s help, is about to encircle and besiege hundreds of thousands of civilians in Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city. This will be a turning point for American national security, and not for the better.
The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) agreed to secure immediate humanitarian access to six besieged locations in Syria during their most recent meeting in Munich, Germany on February 11, 2016.
We’ve seen this movie—now playing in Syria-- before. The Russians have developed a way of getting the U.S. formally to permit offensive Russian military operations against American partners on the ground, all the while calling it a ceasefire.
Russian warplanes concentrated their airstrikes in opposition-held territory in northwestern Aleppo Province in support of an ongoing regime offensive to sever the primary opposition ground line of communication (GLOC) from Aleppo City to the Syrian-Turkish border.
Battlefield realities rather than great power politics will determine the ultimate terms of a settlement to end the Syrian Civil War. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies in Russia and Iran have internalized this basic principle even as Washington and other Western capitals pinned their hopes upon UN-sponsored Geneva Talks, which faltered only two days after they began.
American over-reliance on Kurdish forces as the primary ground partner in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) threatens the long-term success of the anti-ISIS campaign. These pitfalls could promote future regional disorder and prevent the U.S. from successfully degrading and destroying ISIS.