02:05 GMT +3 hours26 June 2016
Live
Su-24 bombers of the Russian Aerospace Forces at the Khmeimim airbase in Syria.

Has the Russian Military Just Forced Obama to Admit Defeat in Syria?

© Sputnik/ Dmitry Vinogradov
Politics
Get short URL
63202631363

On Wednesday, President Obama admitted that he sees no chances for victory for the Syrian opposition, supposedly because it is outclassed by the Russian military, "the second-most powerful in the world." Russian analysts wonder what to make of the president's words, and whether they signal that the war in Syria may finally be coming to an end.

Speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference in California on Wednesday, the US president was asked by Bloomberg reporter Toluse Olorunnipa whether he had been "outfoxed" by Russia's President Putin in Syria. Russia, the journalist suggested, had managed not only to avoid getting caught in a quagmire (contrary to US expectations), but had succeeded in bolstering the Syrian government, whose army has been making major advances around Aleppo, while US-backed rebels have been on the retreat.

Put on the defensive, Obama insisted that actually, Russia would "absolutely" get involved in a quagmire, and that "about three-quarters of [Syria]…still under control of folks other than Assad." Of course, the president failed to mention that most of that territory is sparsely populated, and that about 80% of Syria's population lives in government-controlled areas.

More importantly, the president conceded that "yes, Russia has a major military. Obviously, a bunch of rebels are not going to be able to compete with the hardware of the second-most powerful military in the world." 

As a result, Obama suggested, "the only way to do that is to bring some sort of political transition."

Analyzing the president's words, Svobodnaya Pressa columnist Andrei Ivanov remarked that Moscow, for its part, has always been in favor of a peaceful settlement and that in fact, "it is the opposition which has disrupted the peace talks, by setting impossible demands, including that Bashar Assad step down."

"However," the journalist added, "Obama's words do mark an interesting change of rhetoric. Earlier, Washington had insisted that the opposition fighters they were preparing would simultaneously fight both the terrorists and overthrow Assad. Supposedly, if Moscow had not supported the government in Damascus, peace would have come a long time ago."

"Now, Obama is openly saying that the opposition is facing defeat. It's true, the Syrian Army could not advance without Russian support. But the US no longer has any reason to put its hopes in the opposition. Put in another way, Washington will have to abandon its previous plans."

The change in the president's tone, it seems, "was the result of the strength of the Russian military."

In the past two years, after relations between the West and Russia took a turn for the worse, there has been a lot of talk about the growing strength of the Russian army, including a variety of analyses and tables, such as those from the respected open-source military ranking service Global Firepower

"However, it's one thing for analysts' rankings and articles in newspapers to say it; it's quite something else for the American president to do so," Ivanov noted.

"Only recently, Obama had assured everyone that the Russian economy had been 'torn to shreds', and that sanctions would lead to the country's collapse, and the defeat of our air operation in Syria. Now, he has factually acknowledged not only that Russia is a military power, but that the US itself is facing a difficult situation in the Middle East."

Asked for comment, Mikhail Alexandrov, the head expert at the Center for Military Political Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, told the newspaper that the US president is simply admitting the obvious.

"In my view, Obama simply stated the obvious: that the Syrian opposition does not have any chances for success. What kinds of political conclusions we should make from the American president's words is another matter. I think that Obama has come to the conclusion that it is useless to support the opposition, especially because it never really existed. There were a few numerically small, symbolic units, which were necessary to start negotiations with Assad, but these groups decide nothing, and do not have an impact on anything" in the strategic sense.

"The backbone of the forces fighting the Syrian Army is made up of the terrorists," the military expert emphasized. "The US did not risk supporting them openly, although Turkey did."

Interpreted another way, Alexandrov suggested, Obama's words might be a signal to the Syrian opposition not to continue to stall the Syrian peace talks, the next round of which will be made next week.

"Obama is factually calling on them not to evade the negotiations. After all, soon the Syrian Army, supported by Russia, will liberate the entire country, and then the opposition will not have any opportunity to agree on anything. For now, they still have a chance. The assault to free Aleppo and the operations in Idlib province have cost the Army a great deal of effort, and resulted in civilian casualties. Nobody wants to see further blood. And so for now, the opposition still has something to bargain with. But its window of opportunity is quickly narrowing."

Ultimately, Alexandrov says, "the US has already lost in Syria. Without an operation on the ground they will not be able to restore their positions. Now, Washington has another goal: to obstruct as much as possible Assad's ability to achieve victory – through negotiations, and by continuing [in one way or another] to back the terrorists, which will force the Syrian army into prolonged fighting. The US will now be looking to drag out the war as much as possible."

Related:
Obama on Syria, Relations With Russia and Terrorism: US-ASEAN Summit
The Art of War: Will Russia Outplay Washington's Cunning Geostrategists?
Lavrov Says No-Fly Zone Over Syria 'Turkish Initiative, Not Merkel's'
No Ceasefire in Syria Until 'Turks, Saudis & US Try to Achieve Own Goals'
Resilient and Pluralistic: Why Syrian Arab Army Enjoys Public Support
Militants' Defeat in Aleppo Has US Scrambling to Derail Syrian Juggernaut
Tags:
military analyst, analyst, expert analysis, terrorist, Ahrar al-Sham, Al-Nusra Front, Daesh, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, United States, Russia, Syria
Community standardsDiscussion
Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik
  • Сomment
  • Mother Gorilla
    "The overwhelming majority of people in Syria consider him (Assad) to be a brutal, murderous dictator,” Mr. Obama said in November 2015.

    Now, where would he have that information from? According to polls, 55% of Syrians in the country want him to stay, while 3 out 4 out of refugees want him to leave, but they would be the "moderate terrorists" fighting him that the article mentions.

    So, the survey results seem to suggest that more are o.k. with Assad than with Obama himself (about 40 according to recent Gallup polls). So, it might be o.k. to wait for the next slated elections in Syria in 2018.

    And what was the US' other goal in Syria? Fight the US. Well, Russia and the Syrian army have been doing that excellently. So, time for a fireplace chat between Putin and Obama, looking back at the good times they had over the past 8 years.
  • Mother Gorillain reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    WW3 is here, much more important to get rid of Erdogan than of Assad!
  • Mother Gorillain reply toBlackie(Show commentHide comment)
    Blackie, who is the camel, Assad or Obama?
  • Mother Gorillain reply toBlackie(Show commentHide comment)
    Blackie, to help the Americans fight their wars.
  • Mother Gorillain reply toBlackie(Show commentHide comment)
    Blackie, will go soooner or later.
  • Mother Gorillain reply tokarlof1(Show commentHide comment)
    karlof1, German TV ran a report explaining that the West is supporting these forces because they get along both with them as well as with the Russians.
  • Mother Gorillain reply tocast235(Show commentHide comment)
    cast235, I see what you mean, poor Russia, barely shook of IMF and WB itself in the 90s.

    None of these ME wars seem to be fought with extra-new equipment, is that true? So, why do the US need to constantly produce new gadgets?
  • tonyw247
    time has passed for negotiation with the terrorists or any party in the short term. It should be hand in the weapons and go home for all the opposition factions..negotiating will only give the impression they won something. america wants to go in there and "rescue" its terrorists and fly them to Afghanistan to fight toward Russia. I do not think Pres Putin would like this but that is whats up for sure
  • Mother Gorillain reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    Erik Trete, I think karlof1 is right, they are already developing a new double game, supporting Erdogan and some Kurds at the same time.
    Merkel always goes for the one she last talked to. So, right now it is Cameron whom she is trying to convince to stay in the EU.
  • Mother Gorillain reply tosiberianhusky(Show commentHide comment)
    siberianhusky, they didn't even try.
  • Mother Gorillain reply totonyw247(Show commentHide comment)
    tonyw247, they just might be out of their depth there as well.
  • beydety
    Go Russia!!...
  • You're on the countdown, Barack. Cm'on, put your trousers on and make History. Control the Pentagon for your successor's sake, so that he won't go through what you went back in 2009.
  • MsLiberty
    "Russian analysts wonder what to make of the president's words, and whether they signal that the war in Syria may finally be coming to an end."

    Good question, and it needs to be asked, but it seems to me, this is a reprise of previous events where this kind of cryptic statement only signals that the use of deception is entering a new phase. And maybe not. The corporation in Washington is bankrupt, and its request for funds has been turned down by the Khazarian Mafia that runs it. Kind of bad for the bamster this happens so close to the end of his term, but he's had what- 8 years to complete? What's this doing for his "legacy?"
    I can still hear that bombastic tone he used in '08 when candidate bamster promised the USA he was going to turn things around after the mess that "Bush" left us in. Bush set us up pretty damn good; I guess the bamster was coming in to bat clean-up and finish the send-off of the USA into the NWO. It looks like USA is pretty much toast now, thanks to him, but wait for it- as evil and capable as they are, they are not perfect and cannot foresee every contingency within USA.
    As far as things in Syria go, the potential of this turning out very badly has not been eliminated, despite successes in the air and on the ground against the terrorist gangs the enemies of Assad sent in there to depose him. It's not finished until it is, and, we cannot underestimate the scope and strength of the Khazarian Mafia response, which could be a WW-III. The wild-card is we the people. Are we going to fight a war to destroy the planet because they tell us to? It's high time to tell them, "we will not comply," realizing our lives may depend on unifying in this singular issue.
  • Alabama Mothman
    A wounded beast is the most dangerous
  • ivanwa88
    Obama' reflection was purely a realisation that the so called US backed moderate head choppers have been effectively muzzled, thus the leverage sought to bring about partitioning has been negated. Thus in reality all the main objectives have been stymied therefore his heart is not on the case any longer! not until he gets a second wind that is!
    Of course there are many secondary objectives but for Obama they are of little interest, as his legacy has now been exposed by this conflict as a corrupt warmonger with a split personality! of little use to anyone.
  • roycomfort
    I don't know why Assad and Russians speak about 'terrorists' all the time, it seems to be a constant drumbeat to and excuse for their every move. There are only three entities in Syria classed as terrorist groups, ISIS, which everyone is fighting but not so much Assad, Hezbollah, which is on the regime's side propping up Assad's hollowed-out army, and al-Nusra, which for now is fighting Assad and has embedded itself in the opposition ranks.

    The only people being battered by Russia's 'glorious' air force are the Free Syrian Army, which remains the largest force on the resistance side, the real opposition, their towns and predominantly their civilians.

    Assad calls all Sunni Muslim groups 'terrorists', though they are not and, most importantly, the UN does not agree. Of course he would, his minority Shia-dominated regime can only hang on to power if he reduces the Sunni opposition and drives as many as possible out of the country, which he is doing very successfully with Russia's help.

    The line plays well with the west's islamaphobic brigade and it seems with Russia's one too, but it is just Assad propaganda for those that don't let facts get in the way of a good story.
  • coolerheads
    As long as MAD governs, the U.S. is NEVER going to attack positions held by Russian troops, the same way Russia is NEVER going to attack positions held by U.S. troops. It's NOT going to happen. You can forget that scenario.

    As such, whoever gets there first has the upper hand as the other is not going to attempt to drive them off. Obama had a chance to invade Syria in 2013 and declined to do so. That was his one window. Now that Russia is there, Obama can only watch from the sidelines.
  • Pentagonisabeast
    Putin threw in the spanner into the jew neocon works on September 30th 2015.They must've have never dreamt Russia wouldn't be do that in their wildest dreams.We can all see clearly how desperate the Jew necons are now.Putin has kicked the jew oligarchs in Russia for obliterating Russian government during the Soviet collapse.They won't get away with a single inch of Syrian border.It won't happen on Putin's watch and he'll still be probably be around for another 2 US presidents(lol).
  • Pentagonisabeastin reply toMother Gorilla(Show commentHide comment)
    Mother Gorilla, Money and jobs
Show new comments (0)