Russia’s Adventures In Syria: What Options Does Obama Have?

Russia has launched airstrikes in Syria, targeting mainly anti-Assad armed rebels trained by CIA as part of a covert program. According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, dozens of civilians have died in airstrikes by Russian fighter jets in Hama and areas bordering the Idlib province. Russian jets also bombarded ISIS posts in Palmyra and the northern outskirts of Aleppo, destroying three weapons depots and 20 vehicles of the Islamic State.

Russia will not let Assad regime collapse

Russia has been a long-time patron of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Carrying out air strikes, sending attack helicopter, ground troops, and T-90 tanks, and laser-guided missiles are more than just a symbolic move. President Vladimir Putin has sent a clear signal to countries supporting various rebel groups that Russia will not let the Assad regime collapse.

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Countries training and supply arms to rebels need to up the ante and gear up for a long haul, or risk facing a setback. The only other option for countries led by the U.S. is to end the civil war by supporting Assad’s fight against terrorists. It will allow Russia to preserve its strategic interests in Syria while playing a central role in negotiating any settlement to the conflict.

Why is Obama reluctant to be more assertive in Syria?

Meanwhile, Obama administration has been reluctant to be more assertive in Syria. It may be due to a lack of attractive options or a strategic retreat from the region. So many stakeholders are involved in the Syrian civil war that an escalation of the current conflict may lead to a much greater catastrophe.  Obama claims that Russia is acting out of weakness. But former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst told Fox News that Putin acted with “unexpected vigor” that “flummoxed” the United States.

Moscow has caught Washington by surprise by deploying troops in Syria, airstrikes on strategic targets, and the intelligence sharing with Iraq. And the U.S. has responded to none of these moves. If Obama fails to respond forcefully to Russian advances, the U.S. may risk losing the trust of its allies. If Obama allows Russia and Iran to take over operations in Syria, Sunni countries such ass Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey are not going to be happy with it.