Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Machtpolitik in Syria

Russia has now intervened decisively in the Syrian war.  Its airpower, and possibly troops or advisors on the ground, are shifting the balance of power in the struggle between the Bashar al-Assad regime, and its mostly Islamist opponents.  Informed opinion in the West is doing a lot of huffing and puffing about Russian support for a ghastly regime.   While this is true, the hyperventilation masks the fact that the Western campaign of airstrikes on ISIS has mostly been a failure, and probably is more important for making Western politicians and states feel better about themselves, than about doing much to help Syrian civilians or liberals.

Patrick Cockburn has featured several times on this blog.  The younger brother of Alexander Cockburn, and the most distinguished Western Middle East correspondent now writing (rather less of an egomaniac, and rather more reflective than, Robert Fisk), Cockburn has written three books about Iraq, and has been sharper than almost all of his peers about the rise of the newest generation of Islamist radicals in the wreckage of western Iraq and in Syria.  His recent book The Rise of the Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution is an excellent account of the recent history of these ruined countries.   Here he is on Syria, again in the LRB:

Too Weak, Too Strong: Russia in Syria



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