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Filling the Vacuum: Russia's Record in Syria 'Looks Incredibly Good'

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Su-24 jet - Sputnik International
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All in all, Moscow's record in Syria looks good, US journalist David Gardner said, adding that it is hard to find those in the region who believe that Washington is capable of shaping outcomes on the ground.

Russia's diplomatic and military achievements in Syria are throwing US policymakers off balance, according to US journalist David Gardner.

"It is hard to find anyone in the region who now believes the US is either willing or capable of shaping outcomes in the region," Gardner writes in his article for the Financial Times.

Smoke rises from villages in the southern rural area of Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria. file photo - Sputnik International
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At the same time, the journalist suggested that "Russia has placed itself at the head of a Persian-led Shia Arab axis in the most combustible region in the world" and dubbed these alleged actions as a "gamble."

However, regardless of the speculation that Moscow has sided with the Shia Axis, the Kremlin has demonstrated pragmatism and flexibility by establishing working relationships with major Sunni powers in the region.

The American journalist admitted that Russia has become closer with the US' traditional allies in the region — Israel and Sunni Middle Eastern powers Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.

"[Russia] has even offered to step into the vacant US role of trying to broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinians," he noted.

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Nikolai Surkov of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) highlighted in his article for the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) think tank that tensions are simmering in the US-led Sunni camp.

Although Turkey and Saudi Arabia have long maintained close relations, the attempted coup has seemingly upset the Saudi-Turkish alliance, accelerating at the same time the Turkish-Iranian rapprochement.

Surkov remarked that after the coup unconfirmed rumors emerged in the press accusing Riyadh of having a hand in the uprising.

There was yet another reason for the chill in Saudi-Turkish relations, according to Surkov: Riyadh has got bogged down in Yemen and cannot provide Ankara with tangible assistance on the ground in Syria. 

Women react as they walk along a street after they were evacuated with others by the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters from an Islamic State-controlled neighbourhood of Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, August 12, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Ankara has reconsidered its foreign policy goals and purportedly reached a compromise on the fate of the Syrian leadership with Tehran and Moscow, the Russian academic stressed, adding that by all accounts the Erdogan government has softened its rhetoric regarding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Ankara's moves have obviously added to the Obama administration's discontent with the developments on the ground in Syria.

On the other hand, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has succeeded in preventing Islamist terrorists from fleeing Aleppo, Yevgeny Krutikov of Russian online newspaper Vzglyad reported Friday.

"Following continuous battles the Syrian [Arab] Army backed by Russian Aerospace Forces breached the defensive line of [jihadi] insurgents in southern Aleppo, simultaneously giving an ultimatum to jihadists in the east of the city. Such a success on the part of Damascus could not remain unnoticed by the Western coalition that has resorted to its old good tactics unleashing mass information strikes [on Damascus]," Krutikov wrote.

The journalist narrated that Washington has made yet another attempt to accuse the government forces of using chemical weapons in Syria. However, it does not work, since the Western-backed rebels have not provided any credible evidence of the SAA's involvement in the attacks.

For almost three years Moscow has been trying to stabilize the situation in Syria calling upon the West and the parties involved to settle the political crisis in Syria through diplomatic measures and create a broader coalition against Daesh.

In 2013 the Kremlin had prevented US airstrikes against Syria by brokering the removal of chemical weapons from the country. In 2015 Moscow launched an air campaign, following an official request of the Syrian legitimate government, in order to defeat terrorists in the region.

"Russia's presence in the Middle East contributes significantly to regional stability," French author and consultant at the World Bank Oliver d'Auzon noted in his article for Le Huffington Post, adding that at the same time the US' allies in the region are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with Washington.

"All in all, Mr. Putin's record in the Middle East looks improbably good, with achievements that… keep the US off balance," Gardner stressed.

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