Reprinted from Asia Times
All one needs to know about the intellectual caliber of the Obama administration is that it is still pondering whether to persist in "ignoring" Russian President Vladimir Putin, or invest in a real partnership to solve the Syrian geopolitical/humanitarian drama. After all, when in doubt between diplomacy or chaos, the Beltway weapon of choice still veers towards the simplistic group think uniting neocons and neoliberalcons: regime change.
And then there's the non-stop The Russians Are Coming! hysteria -- the Cold War 2.0 remix, now switching from the invasion/military occupation of Ukraine to the invasion/military occupation of Syria. The White House -- which, same as the Pentagon, does not do irony -- actually appealed to the Kremlin to behave in a "more constructive" way side-by-side with the spectacularly inefficient coalition of the dodgy opportunists which is in thesis fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest clarified that when Obama decides that the Sisyphean task of picking up the phone and dialing K for Kremlin is actually in America's interests, he will do it. The Shakespearean doubt may last days -- even as Putin reaffirmed, via Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, he was always open to dialogue.
The White House at least is mulling an offer from Moscow to actually discuss the Russian buildup in Syria via direct military-to-military talks. The Pentagon will do the talking, seeking the "clarity" that so eludes the Obama administration.
Ankara's double game
Diplomacy, meanwhile, has been hectic. Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu went to Sochi to talk Syria -- and Ukraine -- with the Russians. Ankara's position remains fossilized; any support for Bashar al-Assad equals more civilian casualties.
They also talked Pipelineistan -- as in Turkish Stream; unlike apocalyptic US corporate media reports, the pipeline has not been ditched by Ankara; the problem is Ankara cannot even form a coherent government after the June elections.
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)'s superstar commander Qasem Soleimani also went to Moscow this week to promote Damascus-Moscow cooperation. Wait; he didn't, because Moscow flatly denied the visit. Soleimani was in Russia actually three months ago. The next important meeting to discuss Syria is actually on Monday, between Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Bogdanov.
A quick recap is essential. The Syrian Arab Spring chapter was sponsored/financed/weaponized mostly by Ankara -- totally reversing its previous "zero problems with our neighbors" geopolitical doctrine -- with backing by Doha, substantial House of Saud involvement and full led-from-behind support by the Obama White House.
After over four-and-a-half years and immeasurable tragedy, the real face of this "Assad must go" regime change operation is the refugee crisis. Over 2 million out of 4 million Syrians fled to Turkey; Ankara recently released them en masse from holding camps on their way to the Balkans and the Teutonic Promised Land.
So Ankara is right at the center of the largest refugee crisis in Europe in 70 years. And so is Ankara-supporting Washington; ISIS/ISIL/Daesh captured all the weapons delivered with CIA help to that pathetic "Free Syrian Army" -- as well as tanks and Humvees from the disjointed US-trained Iraqi Army. Any possible solution for relieving the refugee crisis while fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh must include cutting off Ankara's myriad direct and indirect forms of "support" for the fake "Caliphate."
The problem is Ankara is part of the supremely inefficient US coalition. The glaring paradox at least has been identified by some adults in Washington. Yet the Obama administration is still besotted by a dominatrix Ankara playing wag the dog. Team Obama still believes "Assad must go" is responsible not only for the creation of the fake "Caliphate" -- an absurdity gleefully repeated by David of Arabia Cameron and General Hollande -- but he's also responsible for the abysmal failure of the US coalition to smash it. It's actually Ankara that rules what passes for a no-fly zone along the Turkish-Syrian border, and what Ankara wants to fight is Syrian Kurds or PKK Kurds, not al-Baghdadi's goons.
Damn, where's my ground intel?
Meanwhile the Pentagon machine, were they to focus on the "mission," could shock and awe the "Caliphate" goons on a weekend binge. Yet considering how much they did not learn in Iraq, it's unlikely the Pentagon has minimally decent ground intel.