Contrary to US President Obama's expectations, Russia hasn't got bogged down in Syria, American reporter Howard LaFranchi notes, stressing that instead it "has reestablished itself as a power in the Middle East."
"Russian bombers and special forces have solidified President Assad's hold on Syria, making it possible for him to retake parts of the country once considered irretrievably lost to opposition forces, including moderate rebels armed by the Central Intelligence Agency," LaFranchi writes in his article for The Christian Science Monitor.
The US journalist has called attention to the Russo-Turkish rapprochement as well as Moscow bolstering its military cooperation with Tehran.
He underscores that although Russia has suspended the use of the Hamadan airfield in Iran, it was "the first time the Islamic republic had ever accepted foreign forces on Iranian soil."
"It was a concession beyond anything the Shah ever granted the United States," the journalist highlights.
As for Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has recently admitted that the Syrian crisis cannot be settled without Russia.
"As we have said once and again, even during this period of crisis between us, without Russia there will be no lasting settlement in Syria. We keep insisting on this now," Cavusoglu emphasized in an exclusive interview with Sputnik.
"Russia has been able to reassert itself in the region partly because it set out limited goals — something the US might consider taking a cue from," the US journalist writes, adding that these limited goals "are part of a much broader vision for Russia's presence in the Middle East."
Indeed, while Turkey is a key element of Russia's Turkish Stream pipeline project, aimed at delivering natural gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine, Iran plays an important role for both North-South International Transport Corridor (ITC) and the China-led One Belt One Road (New Silk Road) initiative championed by Russia.
Remarkably, online media outlet PolitRussia.com noted recently that Middle Eastern stability is of ultimate importance for Moscow in the context of bold infrastructural projects kicked off by Russia and other major Eurasian powers in the continent.
According to LaFranchi, there is yet another reason for Moscow to beef up its presence in the Middle East.
The Syrian campaign has allowed Russia "to showcase its bombers and other armaments to a hungry regional arms market," he notes.
"The Syrian war has reinvigorated Russian arms exporters, as their weapons have proved their reliability on the battlefield," the US scholar admitted.
And finally, Russia's consistent and transparent foreign policy approach toward the legitimate Syrian government has become a sign that Moscow "is a strong and effective support to friends," LaFranchi notes, quoting Paul Stronski, a senior associate in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
As CIA veteran Paul Pillar remarked in his opinion piece for The National Interest, the US may draw a lesson from the Kremlin's pragmatic and consistent policy in the Middle East, adding that in this respect "Russia is indeed one-upping the United States."