World View: Report: Russia May End Support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad


This morning’s key headlines from

  • Report: Russia may end support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad
  • Russia searches for a plan for a post-Assad Syria
  • Greece faces new financial crisis with no solution in sight

Report: Russia may end support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad

Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin (Reuters)
Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin (Reuters)

According to a report in Asharq Al-Awsat, there are signs of a dramatic U-turn in Russia’s policy toward the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, including consideration of a future without al-Assad, according to unnamed Russian officials. This admission would be the first of its kind from Russian officials.

Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, Russia’s support has been essential to the survival of al-Assad. Al-Assad, a member of the Alawite/Shia religious group, began using heavy weapons on peaceful Sunni Muslim demonstrators. He has flattened entire Sunni villages with Russia’s heavy weapons, he has killed children by sending missiles into exam rooms and bedrooms, he has killed dozens with sarin gas, and he continues to kill countless more with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas dropped from helicopters.

Al-Assad’s genocidal sectarian attack on Sunnis caused the formation of Iraqi rebel groups, such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA). But it also triggered a worldwide tsunami of young men from around the world traveling to Syria to fight against al-Assad, joining the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), and causing the creation of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Al-Assad predicted a quick victory in 2012, and that might have happened if his only enemy had been the FSA. But he began to suffer defeats at the hands of al-Nusra and ISIS, and his regime could only continue with the help of a massive supply of heavy weapons from Russia, fighters from Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and fighters from the Lebanon-based Iran-back terror group Hezbollah.

But even with all that help from three different countries, al-Assad’s army has suffered one setback after another. In just the last couple of weeks, the army lost the big Palmyra air base to ISIS, including its large stocks of ammo and military equipment, and Syrian military and air units have begun pulling out of the big air base at Deir ez-Zour. Because of falling morale, enormous casualty rates, and significant increases in draft-dodging, desertions and defections, the army of al-Assad is showing signs of collapse.

The stunning ISIS victories in Iraq are certainly being watched carefully by those remaining in Syria’s army. In particular, every time Iraqi soldiers drop their weapons and flee from oncoming ISIS fighters, Syrian soldiers may be thinking of doing the same. Desertion by a few divisions or brigades, following the example of the Iraqis, could be all it takes for al-Assad’s army to collapse completely. Asharq Al-Awsat (Riyadh) and Jerusalem Post and Debka

Russia searches for a plan for a post-Assad Syria

The Asharq Al-Awsat report suggests that Russia is thinking about a post-Assad Syria, but few believe that Russia will end its support of al-Assad as long as he has a chance to survive.

The main problem is that the collapse of al-Assad’s regime would probably mean a complete victory for ISIS, which would have control of Damascus, as well as large portions of Syria and Iraq.

There have been thousands of young jihadists around the world who came to Syria to fight the al-Assad regime. Once ISIS had defeated al-Assad, many of those jihadists would wish to return to their home countries. This will subject almost every nation in the world to potential terror attacks. For Russia, it would mean that the armies of Chechen soldiers fighting in Syria would return to Chechnya and join the Chechen separatist movement. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin would get what he deserved for having supported al-Assad, but unfortunately, every other country would suffer as well.

The problem is that no one has a serious post-Assad plan. Iran and Hezbollah have increased deployments in Syria, but not enough to replace the lost soldiers in al-Assad’s shrinking army. As a result, Iran and Hezbollah have begun paid recruitment efforts among Shias in Pakistan and Hazaras in Afghanistan. Jerusalem Post and The National (UAE) and Debka and Foreign Policy

Greece faces new financial crisis with no solution in sight

It seems that Greece is always just a few days away from total bankruptcy, but then always manages to come up with the funds to get through the next deadline. Greece is due to repay 300 million euros to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by Friday of this week, and it is not known where it will get the funds, nor how it will the funds to pay three more installments in June, with all four totaling 1.6 billion euros.

The Europeans and the IMF are demanding that Greece reduce pension payouts and its bloated public sector, something that prime minister Alexis Tsipras and his far-left Syriza party have refused to do. According to a news article written by Tsipras on Sunday:

If we have not reached an agreement with our partners, it’s not because of our intransigence or incomprehensible positions from the Greek side. It is rather because of the obsession of some institutional representatives who insist on unreasonable solutions and are being indifferent to the democratic result of recent Greek elections.

Currently, 44.5 percent of pensioners receive a pension under the fixed threshold of relative poverty while approximately 23.1 percent of pensioners … live in danger of poverty and social exclusion. These numbers … cannot be tolerated – not simply in Greece but in any civilized country.

On Sunday, Tsipras held a “constructive” phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s president François Hollande, but there was no sign of a deal. Irish Times and Kathimerini

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, Palmyra air base, Deir ez-Zour air base, Chechnya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Hazaras, Greece, Alexis Tsipras, Syriza, International Monetary Fund, IMF, Germany, Angela Merkel, France, François Hollande
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