via the New York Post:
by Ralph Peters | March 15, 2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised the world by announcing on Monday that most of his troops would leave Syria. Military analysts were flummoxed.
I, for one, had expected all of the forces backing the regime of Bashar al-Assad to catch their collective breath, then resume the offensive.
In retrospect, it looks obvious: Putin finally met the Middle East. And unlike President Obama, the Russian czar faced reality.
Putin didn’t go into Syria because Assad was a pal. He sent in his air power and his commandos to expand Russia’s regional influence as American power ebbed. He thought he saw a not-to-be-missed strategic opportunity.
And he certainly expected Assad to be grateful for his salvation at Russian hands.
But gratitude isn’t in the Middle East’s repertoire. As Americans discovered painfully, the region’s thanks resemble the bite of a cobra.
The long bet is that his generals, diplomats and intelligence hands on the ground were shocked by the degree to which Iran already and irrevocably dominates Syria. And Iraq. And Lebanon.
Those of us who’ve warned of a burgeoning Iranian empire haven’t found much traction in Washington, where the current president clings to his appalling nuclear deal. And the Middle East still seems far away from the Potomac’s prospering shores. But it’s a very different deal for Putin.
Russia’s newest czar thought he was playing the Iranians, using them as leverage against US influence, selling them arms at a premium and using them as cannon fodder on the ground in Syria — while his combat aircraft soared invulnerably overhead.
But to paraphrase Shakespeare, Putin drank and only then saw the spider in the cup. (Read More)
Read the full commentary at the New York Post