Russia is on the up escalator in the Middle East and the US is on the down escalator. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:
In the Middle East and beyond, we are witnessing a series of high-level political meetings between dozens of nations involved directly or indirectly in the Syrian situation. It is crucial to understand all this in order to understand the direction in which the region is going and what the new regional order is.
With the liberation of Abu Kamal on the Iraqi border, the last Syrian town controlled by ISIS, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have completed the task of eliminating the Caliphate and its control over Syrian cities. ISIS returns to its original dimensions of being a terrorist organization without control of any territory or a city-state proclaimed as its capital.
These are important days, with political conferences about the future of the region and Syria itself occurring from Sochi to Cairo and passing through Riyadh. In Sochi, Assad met with Putin to confirm the alliance as well as Moscow’s loyalty to the Syrian State, and to also focus on a political solution. The Russian and Syrian presidents agreed on the need to involve the largest possible number of opposition groups in the reform process. In this regard, the meeting between Rouhani, Erdogan and Putin was also aimed at creating the conditions for an inclusive solution for all those who have agreed to put down arms and engage in talks with the legitimate government in Damascus. Turkey is the country that holds together the ranks of the so-called legitimate opposition, and Erdogan’s moves have confirmed that his strategy in the region is based around pivoting towards Russia through a full-fledged cooperation with Moscow. It is an almost unprecedented diplomatic victory for Russia that in two years it has managed to turn a potential opponent into one of the main guarantors of the peace process in Syria.
Riyadh is in the meantime bringing together the not-so-moderate opposition groups that are very close to Islamic extremism, a sort of spin-off of Al Nusra (Al Qaeda) and Daesh, and attempting to apply on them a makeover in an effort to rebrand them. It is important to note that recent meetings between King Salman and Putin seem to have opened some sort of dialogue with a representative of Moscow present at the Riyadh conference.
To continue reading: The End of the Syrian War Is the Beginning of a New Middle Eastern Order