Reprinted from RT
Nine months ago when Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's anti-terror intervention in Syria, Barack Obama scorned the move, predicting it would lead to a disastrous quagmire. Why then is the US president so keen now to team up with Russia?
From dire predictions of Russian military failure in Syria to this week's appeal by the Obama administration for cooperation "to defeat terrorists" in the Arab country, there is apparently a dramatic shift in US policy.
Gone is sanctimonious censure against Russia's military intervention and forebodings about a Soviet-Afghan style quagmire in Syria. The public attitude of the US administration is now tantamount to the plea: Can we join your winning team in Syria, please?
US Secretary of State John Kerry flew into Moscow late Thursday and proceeded to have three hours of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, lasting into the early hours Friday.
Radio Free Europe reported that "Kerry sought to find new agreement with Russia on military operations in Syria."
That's quite a turnaround, given the heaps of vilification Washington has thrown at the Russian military operations, accusing Moscow of everything from "propping up the tyrannical Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad," to bombing hospitals and civilians, to wiping out "moderate rebels."
Throughout, despite the Western media disinformation campaign, the Kremlin has remained steadfast in its stated mission: To defend the sovereign state of Syria from an array of terror groups.
And quagmire this ain't. Russia's military forces, with relatively few losses, have transformed the five-year war in Syria, helping the Syrian army to put the illegally armed militants decisively on the defensive. Syrian state forces have recaptured huge swathes of territory, and the once seemingly formidable head-chopping jihadists and their so-called Caliphate are staring at defeat.
It may be too early to declare "mission accomplished" for Russia. But the situation on the ground certainly vindicates Putin's strategy.
US media reports quote US officials as saying that the al-Qaeda-linked jihadists are telling their cadres that the Caliphate is on the brink of collapse. Significantly, too, this is also the context in which Turkey has shifted to a conciliatory position towards Russia and is even proffering a normalization of relations with Syria.
Washington and its regional allies, including Turkey, appear to be tacitly admitting that the covert military operation that they have been fueling for regime change in Syria is all but lost.
This is the context by which to read the latest "offer" from the Obama administration to Russia for military cooperation in Syria. After months of deprecating Russia's intervention and stubbornly refusing to coordinate "anti-terror" efforts, Washington now appears to be reaching out to assist Russia.
Following the meeting between Putin and Kerry this week, the Kremlin said that "the topic of direct interaction between the Russian and US military in Syria was not discussed in detail."
"They discussed different cooperation formats" but questions remain," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. "We are not much closer to real cooperation in order to increase the effectiveness of efforts to combat terrorism in Syria."