Tuesday, March 31, 2020 -
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Power vacuum power plays

Readers may recall an editorial we published about a month back, “Hegemony on a silver platter.” It was just after the Iran deal went through, and the crux of our argument went as follows: There’s a power vacuum in the Middle East that Iran is itching to fill, ideally directly, or at minimum through its allies. The deal strengthens and, perhaps more importantly, emboldens the Russia-Syria-Iran axis, and therefore should have been avoided at all costs.

Where do we stand now? Was our concern correct?

Let’s review what’s taken place since the US Senate made it impossible for a debate on the deal to actually take place and by default passed the deal.

First, though, we have to backtrack, to the excursions of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, in Moscow this summer, Reportedly to encourage Russia to continue propping up the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

Fast forward to now, Putin’s has gone way past posturing in Syria, with the Russian army directly involved in fighting ISIS (sounds good, right?) by strengthening Assad.

It appears Soleimani was successful in his endeavor.

Obama’s been saying for years now how he doesn’t have a strategy for ISIS; as late as June, in the context of finally unveiling his strategy, the president said it wasn’t yet a “complete” strategy. Russia saw the vacuum. Russia exploited the vacuum.

This has been noted not only by ourselves, or political pundits, but by the man on the ground. An article in this week’s IJN asks Syrian refugees in Germany their views on geopolitics. One refugee, Idris Abdulah, answered succinctly: “American is losing. Russia is winning.”

Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

If you see this differently, please let us know — we’re genuinely curious whether we’re missing something here.

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