May 28, 2016: Russia's long road to the Middle East -- The Wall Street Journal front page "Review" article.
October 9, 2015: CNN has the timeline -- how Putin "took" Syria. Two things stand out: a) Obama's multiple "red lines" that were nothing more than lines in the sand; and, b) SecState Kerry "going off script -- according to the CNN analysis. Obama was seen as a paper tiger, and SecState Kerry gave Putin the opening he (Putin) needed.
October 9, 2015: this is the lead story -- the very top news story -- in today's Los Angeles Times -- Obama to end Pentagon effort to train Syrian rebels.
President Obama has decided to end the Pentagon’s failed effort to field a proxy force in Syria, senior administration officials familiar with the plan said today.
Instead of trying to back a moderate Syrian rebel force that the U.S. would train, the administration will focus on supporting the Kurds and other established rebel groups in the country’s civil war, the officials said.If I remember correctly, the Pentagon spent upwards of $500 million to train five (5) Syrian rebels. I could be wrong on the amount; it was posted a few weeks ago.
I'm going to leave it at that for now, but this may become one of the "Big Stories" going forward. Having fixed (permanent) Russian air bases and Russian army bases in the Mideast, I don't think, was on anyone's radar five years ago. I don't think Putin is thinking short term. He's a chess player.
The white Russians may have lost the "Soviet Union," but there's a very, very good chance that something much, much bigger has just been handed to Putin. It might be a good time to review what Alexander the Great might have imagined. Not what Alexander the Great accomplished or did not accomplish or how it all ended for Alex the Great, but what must have been going through his mind as his military was sweeping south and southeast.
Right now, I think, the big questions to be asked are: "how far does Putin plan to go?" "How far will he take this?"
It's hard for me to believe that his political/military planners were strategically planning to take the Mideast ten years ago or five years ago or even two years ago. But if one thinks it amazing that a couple of rogue software engineers could bring down one of the world's largest automakers, imagine what Russian leaders might be able to orchestrate, especially when they have the CEO's backing.
It also couldn't come at a better time. Obama has always been perceived to be very, very weak by Putin, but now Obama is at his weakest, a lame duck. Worse, the US is just at the beginning of a presidential election year. There will naturally be a void in leadership as leaders at all levels move up and down the food chain. The GOP, for example, is seen by mainstream media to be in "disarray" with regard to the House leadership. Political candidates can opine all day long what they would do, but the fact is, they are still candidates and can't do anything for at least a year. That gives Putin a lot of time to solidify his position. Unlike the US which "invaded" a foreign, sovereign nation, Putin did not invade Syria. He was invited.
I don't think this is anything like the Afghanistan "war" for the Russians. This is a whole new ball game.
The "prize" is oil.