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Biden warned as Russia, China flex muscle in Middle East: ‘Allies matter’

JERUSALEM—Two of the world’s most authoritarian leaders – Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad, who’re liable for the twenty first century’s bloodiest wars – met within the Kremlin Thursday to debate an growth of Moscow’s army presence in Syria. 

The pact between two of America’s prime foes raises new questions on whether or not the Biden administration is in a defensive posture and quickly shedding its affect in a vital area of the world.

“We assume that increasing the Russian presence in Syria is an effective factor,” Assad informed Russia’s state-controlled information company RIA in an interview. “Russia’s army presence in any nation shouldn’t be based mostly on something non permanent.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad meet at the Kremlin in Moscow, Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad meet on the Kremlin in Moscow, Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (Vladimir Gerdo, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo by way of AP)


When Putin intervened within the Syrian civil struggle in 2015, it helped tip the steadiness in Assad’s favor, guaranteeing the survival of the Syrian strongman regardless of Western calls for that he be toppled. Assad has waged a struggle towards his inhabitants, ensuing within the killing of over 500,000 folks, together with the homicide of Syrians with using chemical warfare.

The potential beefed up presence of Russian troops and army bases in Syria would current one other problem to the Biden administration’s Middle East coverage. U.S. nationwide safety consultants see China and Russia outmaneuvering the United States in a area the place Washington has traditionally wielded nice affect. 

Rebekah Koffler, a former analyst on the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, informed Fox News Digital that Putin began to outmaneuver the U.S. within the Middle East with President Obama, when Biden was his vp. 

“Putin tricked Obama and by proxy Biden into letting the Russians switch chemical weapons out of Syria, again in 2013. Instead, the Russians noticed a gap and seized the chance to construct up its army presence, making an attempt to tip the steadiness within the Middle East in Russia’s favor. Putin is constructing an anti-U.S. coalition: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Syria,” she famous.

Koffler, who authored the e book “Putin’s Playbook,” added that the Russian chief “desires the Biden administration to assume that he will help with the Iran nuclear deal, a peace settlement in Syria, however in actuality, Putin won’t do something that aligns with U.S. strategic pursuits, particularly now that U.S. is backing Ukraine. U.S. and Russia’s safety pursuits are diametrically opposed.”

Fox News Digital reported this week that America’s three most important adversaries – Russia, China and Iran – plan to carry mixed naval army drills within the Gulf of Oman. Just over per week in the past, China brokered a rapprochement deal between archenemies Saudi Arabia and the Iranians.

Syrian President Bashar Assad reviews an honor guard during a welcome ceremony in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

Syrian President Bashar Assad evaluations an honor guard throughout a welcome ceremony in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 14, 2023. (Sana by way of AP)


A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department informed Fox News Digital, “The proof on Russia is obvious. No matter the place they’re concerned militarily, native civilians pay the value for the Kremlin’s damaging playbook that kills civilians to the good thing about Putin. This is obvious in Russia’s army campaigns in Syria, Libya and Ukraine, the place they use army and paramilitary forces to use civilians in battle zones to advance Moscow’s personal egocentric pursuits.”

The spokesperson added, “Russia’s army marketing campaign in Syria in help of the Assad regime has led to large destruction, in addition to the demise or displacement of a whole bunch of 1000’s of civilians. These army operations undermine situations for a political decision to the Syrian battle, and Russia has not exerted any actual effort to induce significant modifications within the Syrian authorities’s appalling habits towards its personal folks. ” 

The State Department spokesperson careworn that “Russia’s focus ought to be on advancing a political decision in Syria as outlined by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254, relatively than bringing extra struggling to the Syrian folks.” Resolution 2254, from eight years in the past, outlines a peace course of to cease the bloodshed in Syria.

Michael Rubin, a senior fellow and Mideast skilled on the American Enterprise Institute, informed Fox News Digital, “Standing by allies issues. Russia stood by its ally with out qualms. Not solely will Assad reward Putin, however this transfer sends a sign to each different chief within the area. This isn’t nearly Russia’s embrace of Syria. It’s about Russia’s courtship of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.”

Rubin added, “We should calibrate coverage to that actuality. The Syrian Kurds are allies and mates. If Turkey is backing Islamists proxies, and Russia is doubling down on Assad, we should always double down on the Kurds. They are extra progressive, in a position fighters, and need a pro-Western orientation. The query isn’t solely what the United States ought to do however what it shouldn’t do.”

Syria is a fragmented nation, with territory managed by Turkey, Syrian Kurds, Russia and Assad.

Rubin mentioned, “This confirms that Syria won’t be unified. At greatest, with Turkey occupying a zone and now Russia doubling down, Syria would be the new Nineties-era Somalia, divided into zones of affect and ruled by totally different native warlords.”

Syrian refugees pose for a photograph after their tents flooded from the rain at a temporary refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Al-Faour near the border with Syria.

Syrian refugees pose for {a photograph} after their tents flooded from the rain at a brief refugee camp within the japanese Lebanese city of Al-Faour close to the border with Syria. (AP)


Rubin warned concerning the risks of sending assist to Syria’s regime. “Any funding we give to worldwide organizations below the guise of reconstruction assist to Syria will primarily reward a Russian proxy for mass homicide. Money is fungible. What we give within the title of reconstruction primarily helps Assad and Putin construct a base. The proven fact that Assad affords this reveals the place his priorities are. Let’s not be naïve,” he mentioned.

Assad delivered to Moscow a sequence of tangible rewards throughout his go to. Assad informed Putin, “We consider that if Russia has the need to develop bases or improve their quantity, it’s a technical or logistical subject.”

“Having extra bases in Syria is useful for Russia and Putin will seemingly settle for the provide,” Koffler warned. “Since Russian and U.S.forces function in proximity in Syria already, increasing Russia’s foothold within the area is giving Putin extra leverage and the Russian forces extra alternatives to gather intelligence on U.S. struggle preventing ways, army {hardware}, and many others. The Russians examine U.S. methods of struggle totally, with a view to discover vulnerabilities and develop counter-strategies.”

Syria stood beside Russia on the difficulty of Ukraine, Assad mentioned. “Because that is my first go to for the reason that begin of the particular army operation in Ukraine, I wish to repeat the Syrian place in help of this particular operation,” Assad informed Putin, in response to a Kremlin transcript.

Syria acknowledges the territories of Ukraine that Russia has seized as Russian, Assad mentioned. “I say that these are Russian territories, and even when the struggle had not occurred, these are traditionally Russian territories,” Assad informed RIA.

Syrian men walk between buildings destroyed by bombs in Aleppo, Syria, on Oct. 3, 2012.

Syrian males stroll between buildings destroyed by bombs in Aleppo, Syria, on Oct. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Sana, File)


Assad’s years as president have been outlined by the battle that started in 2011 with peaceable protests earlier than spiraling right into a multi-sided battle that has fractured the Middle Eastern nation and drawn in overseas mates and enemies.

He has stitched a lot of his state again along with the assistance of Russia and Iran, aided by the truth that his allies have been all the time extra dedicated to his survival than his enemies have been to his defeat.

Alongside the Hmeimim air base, from which Russia launches air strikes in help of Assad, Moscow additionally controls the Tartus naval facility in Syria, its solely naval foothold within the Mediterranean, in use for the reason that days of the Soviet Union.

Russia’s protection ministry mentioned in January that Russia and Syria had restored the al-Jarrah army air base in Syria’s north to be collectively used. The small base east of Aleppo was recaptured from Islamic State fighters in 2017. Press queries despatched to the Russian authorities weren’t returned.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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