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    5 Months That Changed It All: In Syria, Washington 'Follows Russia's Lead'

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    President Barack Obama has pledged to destroy Daesh and bring peace to Syria ravaged by a five-year-long foreign-sponsored insurgency, yet it is Moscow, not Washington that has played the key role in securing a nationwide ceasefire and launching peace talks.

    Evidently, "Obama's support to these initiatives was crucial, but it's clear that in Syria the US has followed Russia's lead," the Hindustan Times noted.

    So much so that the American leadership seems to have reconsidered the core principle of its Syria strategy. Although many keep saying that Bashar al-Assad has to leave, the Obama administration no longer insists that this is a prerequisite for launching the peace process. 

    A Syrian girl holds her national flag bearing a portrait of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad
    © AFP 2019 / ANWAR AMRO
    A Syrian girl holds her national flag bearing a portrait of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad

    The Indian daily also credited Russia with acting decisively when needed.

    "While Washington has been pusillanimous of ground intervention, Moscow went ahead, took the lead and is today determining the narrative in Syria," the broadsheet asserted. "It not only protected [Assad] but also put [Daesh], al-Qaeda and other militant groups on the back foot."

    Indeed, Daesh and other terrorist organizations, who are trying to establish an Islamic caliphate in the multiethnic and multiconfessional nation, have suffered major battlefield losses. Earlier this week, IHS Jane's reported that Daesh lost 22 percent of its territory in the last 15 months.  

    In addition, the group has been "struggling financially, which [includes] various tax hikes, increases in the cost of state-run services, and significant cuts of up to 50 percent in the salaries" paid to its fighters, the intelligence firm detailed.

    Everyday life of the Russian air group at the Hmeymim airfield in Syria
    Everyday life of the Russian air group at the Hmeymim airfield in Syria

    Russia has also proved that it is capable of carrying out an efficient campaign that is limited in its scope and time. On Monday, Vladimir Putin announced that Russian forces in Syria will largely be pulled out since the operation reached its stated goals.

    "Putin's announcement is important because it puts to rest doubts expressed by the United States, Europe and Sunni states in West Asia that the only reason for Russia's intervention was to stop Assad's downfall," the Hindustan Times observed.

    But the announcement is also significant because it shows that Syria has not become a second Afghanistan for Russia, despite many predictions. For its part, Washington has largely been unable to work out viable exit strategies for its military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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    Russian Jets Withdraw From Syria (72)

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    Tags:
    Syrian ceasefire, Syrian peace talks, Russian aerial campaign, troop withdrawal, Syrian conflict, politics, Daesh, Syria, United States, Russia
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