Is the US now tacitly accepting the Russian strategy?

The US has abandoned its fiasco of a $500 million program for the training of “moderate rebels” who could then have provided the physical presence in Syria for getting rid of ISIS (and Assad). So while the rhetoric against the Russian line continues, it seems apparent that the US is not prepared to work directly for the removal of Assad any more. They seem to have reluctantly accepted that Assad need to stay for some indefinite transition period. But that is precisely the path that the Russians are trying to follow. So even if the US has not exactly thrown the “moderate rebels” under a bus, it seems that they are not going to go very far out of their way to support them with more than some arms and some money.

The US may not have completely abdicated, but seems to be taking a political back seat. Regime change is on hold. They may well content themselves – like any good back-seat driver – with criticising the competence of, and the direction being taken by, the Russian driver.

There is a risk now that Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states will start throwing large sums of money into Syria. Ostensibly it will be for Sunni rebel groups, but much will end up with ISIS and other extreme groups. Iraq of course has joined Iran, Hezbollah and the Assad regime in the Russian coalition.


The US is to end its efforts to train new Syrian rebel forces and says it will shift to providing equipment and weapons to existing forces.

Its $500m (£326m) programme was heavily criticised after it emerged that US-trained rebels had handed vehicles and ammunition over to extremists. ……. 

Quoting an anonymous US Department of Defense source, the New York Times reported that the US would no longer recruit Syrian rebels to go through its training programmes in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.

Instead, it would establish a smaller training centre in Turkey, where “enablers” – mostly leaders of opposition groups – would be taught operational manoeuvres like how to call in airstrikes, the newspaper said. 

The failure of the programme underscores the wider problem of the inability to create large and effective moderate forces on the ground. It will also have wider repercussions since the programme helped to coordinate support activities between the Americans, the Gulf states, Turkey, and Jordan. The risk now is that those countries may push on with more separate initiatives backing individual client groups.

The end-game is not certain but the Russian end-game is the only one around.

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2 Responses to “Is the US now tacitly accepting the Russian strategy?”

  1. atypicalrationale Says:

    Hi, i really appreciate the way you quote mainstream media articles and statements and documents as backing for your articles, but instead of just quoting articles perhaps you could delve into the sources of these articles and quote the references of the articles you draw your research from. Hope that made sense, thanks anyway.

    • ktwop Says:

      There’s always a limit to how deep one can delve. But this is just an opinion blog and not a collection of research papers. So where my opinion is effectively based on some article I usually just quote the article and only sometimes subject them to a fact-checking exercise.

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