Thursday June 23, 2016
That 51 US diplomats reproached President Obama’s Syria policy by calling for greater American military force deployed against the Damascus government was itself a remarkable sign of official dissent within Washington. But the president’s authority was further brazenly undermined when a few days later the Saudi rulers endorsed the dissenting US diplomats – while being received at the White House.
Several things can be discerned here. For one, the US policy on Syria is reeling from failure. The objective of regime change – which has impelled the whole war in that country for the past five years – seems to be fading as an obtainable goal. Russia’s military intervention beginning last October to stabilize the Syrian state put paid to that. Reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the top commander of the so-called Islamic State (IS or Daesh), has been killed in a Syrian/Russian air strike in the group’s eastern stronghold of Raqqa suggests that the foreign-backed terrorist insurgency is indeed facing final defeat.
The US covert tactic of using a dual-track political process of supposed peace negotiations to allow for mercenary proxies to regroup has also come unstuck. Syria and its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies have not relented in targeting terrorist militia, even those whom Washington disingenuously refers to as “moderates” and “on ceasefire.” The cessation in hostilities called for by Russia and the US back in February is sundered because it never was a bona fide ceasefire in the first place, as far as Washington was really concerned. It was only a side-way maneuver to facilitate regime change by political means.