Who wants what in Syria?

For openers, what does the U.S. want?

The Guardian (2013):

Western training of Syrian rebels is under way in Jordan in an effort to strengthen secular elements in the opposition as a bulwark against Islamic extremism, and to begin building security forces to maintain order in the event of Bashar al-Assad's fall…

Earlier this week, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said Washington was now confident that arms supplies to the rebels would not be diverted to extremists. "There is a very clear ability now in the Syrian opposition to make certain that what goes to the moderate, legitimate opposition is, in fact, getting to them, and the indication is that they are increasing their pressure as a result of that," he said.

The deep thinking here looks like the same old: rebels – good, dictator bad.  The rise of ISIS and their sadistic exploits rudely complicated the story of “rebels” fighting an evil repressive dictator to earn freedom and democracy for themselves.  Now the U.S. fights half-heartedly for some unidentified slice of the opposition who want a tolerant, pluralistic democracy to force a peaceful transition away from Assad.  It is hard to pick which is more fanciful.

What about Turkey?

Again from the Guardian:

"The Americans now trust us more than the Turks, because with the Turks everything is about gaining leverage for action against the Kurds," said a Jordanian source familiar with official thinking in Amman.

The Russians?  The L.A. Times:

The Assad regime has been Moscow's most dependable ally in the Middle East for more than 40 years. Assad's father, President Hafez Assad, asked the Soviet Union for military aid and gave the Soviet Navy a base in Tartus, on the Mediterranean coast, in 1971, when Bashar Assad was 6 years old…

There shouldn't be so much mystification about what the Russians are doing," Fiona Hill, a leading Putinologist at the Brookings Institution, told me. "They've been very consistent and very direct. They've been asking: If not Assad, who? They want to see a strongman in place who can keep order."

And China and Iran?  Ostensibly, the Alawites (Assad) are a branch of Shia Islam.  But behind that, it is hard not to conclude that telling the U.S. to butt out is satisfaction in itself.  They all want to stick the finger in Uncle Sam’s eye just for the humiliation.  They sense that the U.S. role as the world’s power broker is over, and China and Russia especially are preening for the role in their part of the world.

U.S. policy in the Mideast and North Africa has been a disaster.

Out with the Shah, in with Khomeini; out with Hussein, in with ISIS, chaos, and terrible persecution of Christians and Yazidis and other religious minorities.  Out with Gaddafi, in with brutal tribal/religious conflict that makes life under Gaddafi look like a predictable, if harsh, sanity.

This follows a pattern of failure by replacing the bad with the worse.  Out with Batista, in with Castro.  Out with Diem, in with Ho Chi Minh and the communist takeover of Vietnam...

Looks as though Putin has it right:

In his speech at the United Nations, Putin charged that "some" people, meaning the United States, had tried to foment "democratic" revolutions around the world, including Syria. "Instead of bringing about reforms, aggressive intervention rashly destroyed government institutions and the local way of life."

Is it time to get out of the Mideast and let Russia, the Turks, and Iran and China “stabilize” the area?

For openers, what does the U.S. want?

The Guardian (2013):

Western training of Syrian rebels is under way in Jordan in an effort to strengthen secular elements in the opposition as a bulwark against Islamic extremism, and to begin building security forces to maintain order in the event of Bashar al-Assad's fall…

Earlier this week, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said Washington was now confident that arms supplies to the rebels would not be diverted to extremists. "There is a very clear ability now in the Syrian opposition to make certain that what goes to the moderate, legitimate opposition is, in fact, getting to them, and the indication is that they are increasing their pressure as a result of that," he said.

The deep thinking here looks like the same old: rebels – good, dictator bad.  The rise of ISIS and their sadistic exploits rudely complicated the story of “rebels” fighting an evil repressive dictator to earn freedom and democracy for themselves.  Now the U.S. fights half-heartedly for some unidentified slice of the opposition who want a tolerant, pluralistic democracy to force a peaceful transition away from Assad.  It is hard to pick which is more fanciful.

What about Turkey?

Again from the Guardian:

"The Americans now trust us more than the Turks, because with the Turks everything is about gaining leverage for action against the Kurds," said a Jordanian source familiar with official thinking in Amman.

The Russians?  The L.A. Times:

The Assad regime has been Moscow's most dependable ally in the Middle East for more than 40 years. Assad's father, President Hafez Assad, asked the Soviet Union for military aid and gave the Soviet Navy a base in Tartus, on the Mediterranean coast, in 1971, when Bashar Assad was 6 years old…

There shouldn't be so much mystification about what the Russians are doing," Fiona Hill, a leading Putinologist at the Brookings Institution, told me. "They've been very consistent and very direct. They've been asking: If not Assad, who? They want to see a strongman in place who can keep order."

And China and Iran?  Ostensibly, the Alawites (Assad) are a branch of Shia Islam.  But behind that, it is hard not to conclude that telling the U.S. to butt out is satisfaction in itself.  They all want to stick the finger in Uncle Sam’s eye just for the humiliation.  They sense that the U.S. role as the world’s power broker is over, and China and Russia especially are preening for the role in their part of the world.

U.S. policy in the Mideast and North Africa has been a disaster.

Out with the Shah, in with Khomeini; out with Hussein, in with ISIS, chaos, and terrible persecution of Christians and Yazidis and other religious minorities.  Out with Gaddafi, in with brutal tribal/religious conflict that makes life under Gaddafi look like a predictable, if harsh, sanity.

This follows a pattern of failure by replacing the bad with the worse.  Out with Batista, in with Castro.  Out with Diem, in with Ho Chi Minh and the communist takeover of Vietnam...

Looks as though Putin has it right:

In his speech at the United Nations, Putin charged that "some" people, meaning the United States, had tried to foment "democratic" revolutions around the world, including Syria. "Instead of bringing about reforms, aggressive intervention rashly destroyed government institutions and the local way of life."

Is it time to get out of the Mideast and let Russia, the Turks, and Iran and China “stabilize” the area?