Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

Why Obama Should Just Let Putin Have the Mess in Syria

| October 29, 2015

One way or another, the war in Syria will remain a hopeless mess — best we leave it to Moscow.

You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Nor can Vladimir Putin broker a political solution in Syria. In fact, as a result of his recent attempts to play diplomatic power broker in the Middle East, he will lose credibility. That will only grow more apparent later this week when officials from Iran — like Russia, a major backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — meet with their American and Russian counterparts in Vienna to discuss a political resolution to the Syrian conflict. Russia has reportedly been pushing for Iran's inclusion in these high-stakes talks.

But Putin is setting himself up for disappointment. That's because there is no political solution to the Syria crisis: Russia's purported aspiration to hold talks with the "full spectrum" of rebel groups in Syria will inevitably fail because that spectrum plainly includes hard-line Islamists and the Islamic State — contingents that neither Washington nor Moscow is prepared to deal with. In the absence of a political solution, recapturing areas held by Islamist rebels will necessarily involve a long, bitter fight to the death — a fight that Assad, Iranian proxies, and now the Russians are stuck with....

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For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Simpson, Emile.“Why Obama Should Just Let Putin Have the Mess in Syria.” Foreign Policy, October 29, 2015.

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