Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What the Russian Plan Means

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The proposal offered by Russia to solve the Syrian weapons of mass destruction issue is an all around win. Everyone, from Putin and Obama to Israel and Iran, come out winners. There is only one loser - one big time loser.

Assad emerges a big winner. The president of Syria dodged a set of tomahawk missiles. There is no real challenge to him or to his policies and he continues fighting the rebels without any threat to his infrastructure.

Obama is the next big winner. John Kerry was the first to float the possibility of this solution in a throwaway line on Sunday during a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

It does not matter that Putin then publicly came up with the idea and totally out maneuvered Obama because Obama and the US are initiators of the compromise. Putin and Obama both emerge as major forces capable of resolving international issues and crises.

Israel is very pleased. Pulling back the threat of a US strike against Syria relieves the pressure of a counter strike against Israel by Syria, Hezbollah or Iran. Israel was prepared and ready for an aggressive response but even then there were still significant risks. Now those risks have been eliminated. They just hope that the plan is in place quickly before Assad can hide or give the weapons to Hezbollah.

Iran is happy in that its proxy, Assad, is still totally entrenched in his position and back on the way towards squashing his rebels.

Iran understands that Russia is a formidable foil to the United States and now they have a realistic assessment of US/ Russian interaction in the Middle East. And, best of all, Iran has not been threatened at all.

Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were all potential targets of retaliation. The problem has been solved and they are no longer in the crosshairs.

Assad, Obama, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar aside, the biggest winner of all is Putin, the Russian head of state. The Russians have turned themselves into the kingpins that put world agreements together and that defend their minions.

Russia was on the wane but now, after Putin's stubborn display, the world knows that when push comes to shove, he can cobble out a solution that works best for everyone.

The rebels are the big losers. Rebel fighters lost any and all backing they had from the West and Assad's position has been internationally affirmed. Their loss is tremendous. 

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