With Russia’s increased military presence in Syria, there are indications the Kremlin is winning influence in the Middle East and intends to spread it further beyond the region.
Earlier this month, Russia has been increasing its military presence in Syria, supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the U.S. wants his government removed from power.
Russia’s recent actions in Syria have significantly ramped up tensions between Washington and Moscow. However, U.S. President Barack Obama doesn’t know how to respond to Russia’s intervention in Syria, according to American media outlets.
That’s the reason why Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel – a major player in the conflict – decided to not wait for his ally’s actions and flew to Moscow to meet with Russian President.
The meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin signals that the Israeli leader has doubts in U.S. abilities to protect Israel’s security interests. Netanyahu believes that Obama failed to resolve a similar issue with Iran by reaching nuclear deal, which is why he is unlikely to resolve the Syrian crisis.
Netanyahu is the first Middle Eastern leader that realized who is the new “master’ of the Middle East, and flew to Moscow, according to Israeli journalist Moav Vardi, who covered Netanyahu’s arrival to Russia.
After the talks with Putin, Netanyahu announced that the countries made arrangements on how to prevent unnecessary confrontation between Israel and Russia in Syria.
Netanyahu’s urgent visit to Russia underscores Russia’s new status and reputation in the region. U.S. influence in Middle East has been weakening, while Washington’s actions against ISIS militants are limited to air strikes, and Russia, on the other hand, dives into the depths of the Syrian crisis to save the al-Assad’s regime.
Putin wants to resurrect the Russian empire – U.S. General
With its increased military presence in Syria, Russia is filling the vacuum the U.S. left behind, according to a top former U.S. General.
“Russia’s recent military escalation in Syria is a further reminder that when the U.S. does not take the initiative, others will fill the vacuum, often in ways that are harmful to our interest,” retired Gen. David Petraeus said Tuesday, testifying before the Senate Armed Service Committee.
Russia’s actions in Syria prove that the Kremlin wants to strengthen and maintain their naval base and airstrip along the Mediterranean coast of Syria, as well as bolster the al-Assad regime to preserve Russian influence in the region, the General said.
“I think that what Vladimir Putin would like to do is resurrect the Russian empire,” Petraeus added.
There are indications that Putin would indeed like to resurrect the Russian empire. Russia has come to help Syria at the right time from both the tactical point of view – the Syrian government has been experiencing military setbacks recently – and strategically – just weeks before the General Assembly of the UN, which will be attended by Putin who prepares a speech of the winner.
Therefore, Putin’s dream to bring Russia’s superpower status back and make it one of the world’s most influential powers is coming true.
Putin’s major diplomatic victory
Over recent weeks, there have been numerous reports and pictures from satellites showing Russia’s continuous deliveries of new military equipment, ammunition, tanks, warplanes, and other cutting-edge hardware to the Syrian government.
Russia also expands its military presence in the region by reportedly modernizing a large air base in the Syrian government-controlled city of Latakia.
Appearing at the General Assembly of the UN on September 28 after a decade-long absence, Vladimir Putin will not come empty-handed.
It is expected that Putin will offer his resolution of the Syrian crisis, which will likely include a peaceful dialogue with the al-Assad’s regime and the so-called ‘healthy’ opposition (the Free Syrian Army and opposition organizations). Putin will likely suggest creating the kind of coalition to fight ISIS Russia would like to be a part of.
Russia’s growing interference in Syrian Civil War has turned Moscow’s ally – Bashar al-Assad – into a diplomatic factor, which the UN will have to listen to. And it’s a major victory of Putin, who has turned his country into an initiator of global processes.
Putin takes advantage of U.S. lack of strategy on Syria
Vladimir Putin is slowly, but effectively taking advantage of the lack of a clear strategy on Syria in Washington. Putin is aspiring to fill the vacuum the U.S. left behind to influence every country in the region, which has lost complete or partial support from Washington.
Egypt is a good example. The country is becoming a close ally of Moscow under the regime of the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Russia supplies Egyptian army with weapons and helps it fight jihadist terrorist groups as well as promotes a project to build Egypt’s first-ever atomic power plant.
In order to win influence all over the Middle East as well as in the whole world, Russia maintains close ties with Arab states of the Persian gulf, including Saudi Arabia, to persuade them to side with Moscow in Syria.
Since the relations between Moscow and Washington deteriorated, Russia has been visited by a great number of leaders of Middle East states, including the king of Jordan Abdullah II, who is one of the major U.S. allies in the region.
Abdullah II acknowledged Russia’s significance in the region, saying that the Syrian conflict must be resolved as soon as possible and Russia plays a critical role in uniting forces of Syrian opposition to bring them to a peaceful dialogue with the Syrian government.
Speaking at the Pentagon on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Barack Obama said that Russia is the main culprit to blame for the Syrian crisis for its continuous military supplies to the Assad regime as well as its unwillingness to admit that as long as Assad is in power, there will be no peace in Syria.