US President Barack Obama offered Russia military cooperation in Syria. The news came as a surprise, because just a couple of weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry, frowning, warned that America was running out of patience. Kerry stated that Assad's army was violating ceasefire to conduct offensive operations in Aleppo with Russia's support.
The warnings from Kerry sounded particularly ominous against the backdrop of rumors about "Plan B", the details of which were not disclosed. It was only said that the plan was designed to escalate the conflict to lead to the direct US military intervention right up to a possible armed conflict with Russian forces in the Arab country. Reportedly, several US diplomats insisted on the implementation of such a plan.
In general, one may understand the US State Department. How much patience does the USA need to have when Russia is always a step further, and the Americans seem to be unable to take the initiative from Russia. Obama has made a number of public statements announcing Russia's isolation and economic decline. The all-mighty United States of America seems to be ready to unleash another world war to rescue the sanctity of the "American dream" of limitless power and global domination.
Fortunately, as it turns out, the opinions of hawkish State Department officials do not reflect the official position of the White House. To date, "Plan B", i.e. an alternative plan of action to the current US strategy in Syria is about inviting Russia to closer coordination.
Until recently, the two countries were coordinating their actions to establish mechanisms to ensure parallel and independent actions for the air forces of the American coalition and the Russian Air Force. The main objective was to avoid a possibility for their collision. The sides were not coordinating targets for air raids.
It is no secret that Russia has repeatedly and persistently offered the Americans to start to coordinate targets. Yet, Washington was not willing to accept the offer. Perhaps, the US was fine with the situation in which it could always accuse Moscow of bombing "wrong" targets, including the "moderate opposition" that fights against the Assad regime.
Now Obama would like Russia to make Assad stop striking the "moderate opposition" in Syria. In exchange, the White House is ready to deepen military cooperation with the Kremlin in Syria.
At the same time, though, the US continues to refuse to disclose the coordinates of the "forbidden" targets. Instead, it goes about some "geographical areas" that would be closed for operations of the Syrian military aircraft.
At first glance, the "Plan B" carries nothing new, except, perhaps, promises to "deepen military cooperation."
Yet, a more detailed analysis allows to conclude that Obama's proposal may indicate a fundamental change in the situation around Syria.
Firstly, one shall assume that the US president has abandoned his theses about the "weakness" and "isolation" of Russia. After all, the USA does not offer "weak" and "isolated" countries to deepen military cooperation in third countries.
Secondly, the request for the creation of "protected areas" that would be closed for air strikes by Syrian forces, may indicate that the Americans have identified their ally in Syria - the so-called New Syrian Army (NSA). This group replaces the completely defeated Free Syrian Army that showed its utter unfitness for action.
It is highly likely that the NSA was created by Washington as a representative of US interests in the forthcoming process of political settlement in Syria. If NSA units are "inviolable", then all other opponents of Assad are doomed to either join the NSA or become a "legitimate" target for the attacks of the Syrian Armed Forces and the Russian Air Force.
Thirdly, the United States has abandoned the idea to achieve topple Assad by military means. Now their main task is to get ready for future negotiations, in which Assad will participate. Otherwise, it does not make sense to ask Moscow to convince Damascus not to bomb the areas that the Americans specify.
If all this is true, then we can talk about the success of Russia's strategy in Syria, aimed primarily at combating international terrorism. America is forced to admit that it will be up to Syria to determine the future of Bashar Assad.
Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru