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Can Russian Intervention Fix The Syria Problem?

This week began with Russian war planes bombing Syrian rebels who are fighting against the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Many are cheering Putin's bold move, and many think it is a mistake. Do you think Russian intervention will help advance Assad's rule?

68% of writers and pundits say no
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Can Russian Intervention Fix The Syria Problem?  

Writers and pundits who say or about the topic, "Can Russian Intervention Fix The Syria Problem?"
last 24 hours | feeds.huffingtonpost
Russia's Aim in Syria Is to Strategically Defeat ISIS and Al Qaeda
"...Clearly, "business as usual" in these circumstance was impractical (if some calamitous air incident in the Syrian skies was to be avoided). And President Obama's opponents immediately pounced: Putin was wrong-footing America (again). Secretary of State John Kerry hotly demanded military coordination that would at least keep the U.S. coalition flying -- and in the game...." see full article

1196 days ago | thedailybeast
Russia Is Bombing Ambulances in Syria

"...So far, 80 percent of Russia's air sorties in Syria have hit decidedly non-ISIS targets, mainly in the center, north, and west of the country. That's where, in addition to civilians, a grab bag of fighters opposed to President Bashar al-Assad ranging from hardline Islamists to al Qaeda to U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army units have all had bull's-eyes painted on their backs. They attacked Jisr al-Shughour and Latakia, Martini said, but also Yamadea, where there is a big hospital that's been in operation for about 40 years. Thank God they didn't hit it! The missile went elsewhere. They also struck on the outskirts of Hama, attacking a the field hospital and killing a lot of people. ..." see full article

1199 days ago | washingtonpost
Russias military is unlikely to turn the tide in Syrias war

"...But unless it is significantly strengthened, Moscow's contribution is unlikely to be decisive in the war, analysts said. While Russia boasts its military is stronger than it has been in 25 years, its forces still grapple with aging equipment and have a weak partner in the poorly trained Syrian army. There is also tepid support among the Russian public for a lengthy conflict.Russia is a longtime ally of Syria, but its deployment marks a milestone for a country that has largely limited its military actions to parts of the former Soviet Union. Like the U.S. campaigns in Syria and Iraq, the new Russian offensive is attempting to weaken an Islamist insurgency by using air power...." see full article

1202 days ago | nytimes
Obama Sees Russia Failing in Syria Effort - New York Times

"...Neither Russia nor Iran showed signs of listening. While Moscow widened its airstrikes to hit Islamic State territory for the first time, Russian troops have unloaded a major long-range artillery system to add more firepower to its deployment in Syria, according to an American official. At the same time, American officials said Iran had sent additional ground troops to bolster Mr. Assad's government.Mr. Obama was left to confront a deteriorating situation over which he seemed to have even less control than before. In New York, Secretary of State John Kerry met with the foreign minister of Iran without any apparent breakthrough, while American allies from Europe and the Middle East publicly called on Russia to stop bombing the moderate Syrian opposition to Mr. Assad...." see full article

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1202 days ago | nytimes
Russia's Dangerous Escalation in Syria

"...Mr. Putin's claim that the primary motivation for the bombing is to fight and destroy terrorists, including the Islamic State, is dubious. It is more likely that the Russian leader's main objective is to rescue President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whose hold on power has weakened as the Syrian Army has lost ground not only to the Islamic State, which is trying to establish a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, but also to a coalition of insurgent groups that is opposed to the Islamic State.Syria is Russia's chief ally in the Middle East, and Mr. Putin has enabled Mr. Assad throughout the conflict. Mr. Putin could have prevented the turn to violence back in 2011 by persuading his ally not to attack peaceful antigovernment protesters...." see full article

1203 days ago | thedailybeast
Russia Is Using Old, Dumb Bombs, Making Syria Air War Even More Brutal - Daily Beast

"...The Kremlin insists it's hitting militants from the so-called Islamic State. But the locations of the aerial strikes imply otherwise that Russia's bombing civilians and U.S.-backed rebels instead. Chillingly, video and photographs from Russia's new air war seem to indicate that the attacks are inaccurate and indiscriminate.Instead of dropping precision-guided munitions like the U.S.-led coalition does, the Russians are joining the Syrian air force in deploying unguided dumb bombs, apparently including deadly cluster munitions, which are much more likely to kill bystanders.In short, Russia's making Syria's brutal air war even worse...." see full article

1203 days ago | realclearpolitics
Russia Creates "Facts on the Ground" - RealClearPolitics

"...Putin's air force may prop up Assad temporarily, but the Russians are playing a dangerous game in backing a leader despised by Sunni Muslims across the Arab world. A blunt warning comes from Maj. Issam Al-Rayyes, a rebel spokesman: "Any power that stands with Assad in killing Syrians is an enemy of the Syrian people."As the Russian military goes to war against jihadist fighters, 35 years after its ill-fated invasion of Afghanistan, Putin may imagine that he's banishing another ghost of the fallen Soviet Union. But he might review a 1991 study of lessons from Afghanistan, prepared by Russia's Frunze military academy and translated into English with the title "The Bear Went Over the Mountain." The Russian authors cite the mujahedeen's "cunning," "surprise," "very broad agent reconnaissance network" and "intimate" knowledge of the battlefield. Russian citizens "did not understand why their sons were being conscripted for battle in a strange land," notes the translator...." see full article

1203 days ago | theweek.c
Russia strikes in Syria: is there really a risk of World War 3? - The Week UK
"...Putin might want to maintain national dignity and show the world that Russia is an equal player with the US in the Middle East, but there are other motives at play too, says Dejevsky.She points to Putin's speech at the UN General Assembly earlier this week, in which he urged world leaders to "join efforts" to create a "genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism", similar to the "anti-Hitler coalition" of the 1940s.Obama also said the US was willing to work with any country, including Russia and Iran, to establish peace in the region and even hinted at some flexibility about the timing of Assad's departure...." see full article

1203 days ago | bloombergview
Putin Has His Own No-Fly Zone in Syria - Bloomberg View
"...Since the Russian buildup began last month, the U.S. has been signaling that it is ready to accept Russian and Iranian security control inside Syria without any promise by them to push Assad out any time soon. Kerry has said publicly the U.S. is flexible as to the timing of Assad's departure. Other voices close to the White House have gone even further. The current policy of the United States and its partners, to increase pressure on Assad so that he comes to the table' and negotiates his own departure -- must be rethought, Philip Gordon, the former White House coordinator for the Middle East, wrote this week. It is fanciful to imagine limited airstrikes, arms to the opposition, or the establishment of a no-fly-zone would lead Assad to behave differently from Saddam, Milosevic or Gaddafi. ..." see full article

1203 days ago | time
Russia's Unguided Weapons in Syria Could Ricochet on Moscow - TIME
"...The Syrian air force has been bombing anti-government rebels as well as innocent civilians with crude barrel bombs that rarely hit their targets. But the arrival of the Russian air force isn't bringing a big increase in accuracy. Their bombing technology is a generation behind American weapons, and that could end up pinning a target on the back of every Russian soldier in Syria as well as back home.The U.S. has claimed that the Russian air strikes that began this week appear aimed at Syrian rebel forces fighting to topple President Bashar Assad instead of the Islamic State in Syria and Greater Iraq. But they may not be very effective. Video released by the Russians and U.S. intelligence reports indicate the bombs being dropped are unguided, and that at least some of them are going astray...." see full article

1203 days ago | demdigest
Syria conflict: Russia strikes 'will fuel extremism' - Democracy Digest
"...In a second day of raids in Syria, Russian warplanes carried out a new round of airstrikes on Thursday that once again contrary to Moscow's assertions appeared to be targeting not the Islamic State but a rival moderate insurgent coalition, The New York Times reports. The fact that [Putin] is not fighting terrorism, but is actually taking a side in what has become a sectarian quagmire, allying with the Shia against the Sunnis, is bound to play a role in this matter as well, notes Syrian democracy activist Ammar Abdulhamid [left]. Indeed, considering that Russia's 12% Muslim communities are overwhelmingly Sunni, Putin's policies may not that wise on the long run. ..." see full article

1203 days ago | cnn
Russia's Syria expedition: Why now and what's next? -

"...Local reports speak of an influx of Russians at hotels in Latakia, who will only say that they fly cargo planes -- presumably the giant Ilyushin Il-76s and Antonov An-124s that are bringing in much of the equipment.But why would Russia want to become involved in the Syrian imbroglio -- a conflict which has confounded everyone who has tried to influence it? Is it to defend an ally, al-Assad, and force the West to talk with him? To protect its own access to the Mediterranean? As part of a deal with Iran to tip the balance against Sunni rebel groups? Because it wants to join the international coalition against ISIS? Or -- as one commentator puts it colorfully -- to "stick it to the United States"?..." see full article

1203 days ago | realclearpolitics
How Russia Created "Facts on the Ground" in Syria

"...The speed and decisiveness of Russian action appear to have taken the administration by surprise, prompting Kerry to voice "grave concerns." A U.S. official said the intelligence community predicted that Russia would provide indirect support to Assad, such as training and advisers, but that "direct military intervention was not considered the most likely" response.A close source to Assad's regime blasted what he claimed was chronic American misunderstanding of Syria. "The scandal is how amazingly incompetent American intelligence is," he wrote in an email. "Not only were U.S. officials predicting until weeks ago that the Russians could abandon Assad, ... U.S. intelligence could not even pick up on what the Russians were doing, the logistical, technical, military and manpower preparations ... [ to] execute such an unprecedented mission."..." see full article

1203 days ago | theguardian
Russia's Syria gambit could be a game changer – but only if it ...

"...Yet Russia's direct military role may turn out to be fairly limited. Like the US and others it has made clear it will not put boots on the ground in Syria. Its air power is also less impressive than what the US led-coalition can deploy. And there are clear risks. Anti-Assad forces of all stripes are equipped with relatively sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry and could imperil the viability of the Russian mission by downing even a handful of aircraft, commented Daragh McDowel of the Verisk Maplecroft risk consultancy. The larger question is whether Moscow can use its influence in Damascus to persuade Assad to take any steps towards the political transition that so many Syrians and so many other countries insist is necessary to try to end the war. If it does not do that and there is no guarantee that it will the airstrikes seem certain to do nothing more than further escalate an already dangerous conflict...." see full article

1204 days ago | theguardian
The Guardian view on Russian intervention in Syria: mixed motives ...

"...Yet the Russian move also brings an opportunity, which the United States and its allies should seize, to shift the focus of international concern about Syria away from the military extinction of Isis towards the protection of those civilians by whatever arrangements, partial though they may be, that can be achieved, with or without Moscow's cooperation. Let us take President Vladimir Putin's rhetoric at face value and agree that there is common ground in the attempt to contain Isis. Let there be deals to prevent possible confrontations between Russian and coalition aircraft. Let the generals confer.But let us go beyond that to propose safe havens, no-fly zones and local ceasefires which will get an increasing number of ordinary people out of the line of fire, or at least free them from the fear of air strikes by whatever side. Let Moscow, or Tehran, explain why that would not be a good idea...." see full article

1204 days ago | feeds.huffingtonpost
It's the Wrong Time to Talk to Iran and Russia on Syria
"...Because most Syrian rebels also fight ISIS, a Royal United Services Institute report concluded last week that Russian intervention for Assad -- and against the Syrian rebels -- could very well end up helping ISIS. An added concern is that Russia has set up advanced anti-aircraft missiles in Syria. These missiles can not be meant for ISIS, which has no air force, however, they could complicate U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS in the future. And to top it all off, Russia seems to be replicating its mischief in Iraq, as they have set up a separate "anti-ISIS" coordination cell with Assad and Iran in Baghdad.It is in this context that Philip Gordon, President Obama's former Middle East chief, penned an op-ed on Friday entitled "It's time to Rethink Syria." Briefly, the op-ed argues that the goal of "displacing the Assad regime has proven unachievable," so the U.S. should instead work toward a "U.S.-led contact group" on Syria that includes the Gulf States, Turkey, Iran and Russia. However, a U.S.-led contact group for countries backing Syria's opposition has existed since 2012. Therefore, Gordon's main proposal is in fact that the U.S. begin working with Assad's backers, Iran and Russia...." see full article

1205 days ago | washingtonpost
Why Russia's Syria war is bad news for the U.S. (and why it isn't ...

"...But it's not clear whether the targets of the current wave of airstrikes were positions manned by the jihadists. The Russian action raises a number of strategic conundrums for the U.S., which has waged a concerted air campaign of its own in Syria and Iraq against the extremist organization.There has been little coordination between the two sides over the airstrikes. On the sidelines of meetings at the United Nations, Secretary of State John Kerry apparently told Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that the intervention was "not helpful."..." see full article

1205 days ago | nytimes
Russia Buildup Seen as Fanning Flames in Syria

"...The arrival of four multipurpose warplanes at an airfield near Latakia, Syria, on Monday brought the number of tactical jets that Moscow has deployed to Syria this month to 32. They further enhanced Russia's ability to carry out airstrikes that experts say can give Syrian government forces a badly needed boost on the battlefield. Reconnaissance flights by Russian drones in the last week have all been over areas controlled by opponents of Mr. Assad some backed by the United States and its allies while avoiding territory controlled by the Islamic State.Continue reading the main storyIf Russia takes the next step of sharing the intelligence with the Syrian government or carrying out airstrikes against those groups, it could easily lead to an escalation in the conflict, frustrating already-dwindling hopes for a diplomatic resolution and prompting Arab governments to increase aid to Syrian rebels...." see full article

1205 days ago | politico
Think the U.S. and Russia Disagree on Syria? Think Again.

"...Still, much will depend on whether Russian forces in Syria focus their attacks on the Islamic State or on other rebels that threaten Assad's hold on power, including Kurdish forces that are now considered one of the most potent opponents of the Islamic State. On Wednesday Russia began airstrikes near the city of Homs, which is not controlled by the Islamic State; if it turns out that the targets included secular rebels, that could seriously complicate U.S.-Russia cooperation.But despite criticism of Wednesday's strikes by U.S. officials mainly over Moscow's last-minute notification there were indications that the Russians were at least partly targeting arms depots controlled by Jaish al-Fatah, the umbrella group forAl Qaeda and other radical Islamist factions in Syria that, at this point, constitutes the main military opposition to the Assad regime, according to Joshua Landis, a well-known Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma who is an occasionaladviser to the U.S. government. Ironically, Jaish al-Fatah seized many of those weapons from U.S.-supplied secular rebels as a result of America's botched train-and-supply program, "so the Russians are basically trying to correct our mistakes," Landis said. "America can't complain because it'sAl Qaeda and that's who this war is supposed to be against."..." see full article

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