Damascus (GPA) – In a surprise visit to Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the Russian and Syrian militaries on their victory over the terrorist threats that have been ravaging Syria for 6 years.
As part of a three-nation trip to Egypt, Turkey, and Syria, Vladimir Putin made a stop yesterday at the Russian-run Hmeimim airbase near Latakia to visit Russian soldiers fighting in the country. Using the appearance alongside Syrian President Bashar al Assad and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Putin declared total victory by the Syrian and Russian militaries over the Islamic State and other militants in Syria, celebrating that the country had been “preserved as a sovereign and independent state.”
Putin also announced that now, due to the Syrian war winding down, a “significant part” of the Russian forces in Syria would now “return home victorious” in a major drawdown. Speaking to reporters about Sergey Shoigu, Putin said he had ordered: “the defense minister and the chief of the general staff to start withdrawing the Russian group of troops to their permanent bases.”
This, of course, comes as a shock to many leaders – primarily in the US – who didn’t believe Russia could aid Syria in any meaningful way, with former President Obama even famously predicting it would be a “quagmire” for Moscow. Yet the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian military have truly seen an incredible change of Syria’s fortunes since Russia entered the war with Assad’s government in desperate times, to now, where nearly 90% of Syria is back under the control of Damascus.
There is another key factor at play in this decision, and it primarily involves the powers that first launched the war on Syria through their terrorist mercenaries. Countries like the US, European Nations, and Turkey all were vying for Assad to be removed from the presidency and all of them saw their plans fail. But what will Assad and Putin do about these forces once the Russians, Syria’s main deterrent, leave?
Well, it seems as if that’s been covered too.
Once Putin left Syria he traveled to Ankara to meet with Turkish President Recep Erdogan. Erdogan, who just so happens to be turning away from his NATO allies, has recently agreed in talks with Russia and Iran to halt support for proxies in Syria and become an honest broker in peace. With Turkey turning this way, and Russia as a mediator, it seems Erdogan may be coming around to working with Syria and even solving some common problems together, like the resurgent US-backed Kurdish terrorist groups on the shared border and a reinvigorated Israel.
The larger western powers also seem to be coming to the realization that after 6 years of trying, they will not be removing Assad from the government by any means. Instead, what the US and EU apparently plan to do now is accept the peace agreements that are being negotiated without Washington, which includes possible changes in Syria including an election in 2021.
Despite constant flip-flopping by the US government (primarily the Trump regime) in calling for the ouster of Assad or saying he could remain, it now seems that the solid framework being built by actual diplomats is their only option. Even with recent warnings by figures like US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or Ambassador Nikki Haley that the US would act alone against Syria, it now seems they must admit they don’t have the stomach for what that would bring. Assad is going to remain in Syria as long as the Syrian people want him to and the US is now being forced to accept that.