Russia has been building up its military presence at an air base in Syria, including fighter jets, tanks, helicopters, air defense missiles, personnel and other equipment. Russia is a traditional ally of Syria and has supported Assad, who has clung to power despite a US-led international effort to force him to step down.
A very sharp analysis of the Syrian situation from the New York Observer's John Schindler, who lays out a case that Russian influence in the Middle East is on the rise while America's is being frittered away by the incompetents at the White House.
The main culprit is micromanagement by White House staffers, especially on the National Security Council, which is bloated and regularly treats senior military officers and diplomats like hired help. Obscenity-laced tirades by senior NSC staff are not uncommon. To make matters worse, significant differences between the NSC and the Pentagon on how to defeat the Islamic State went unresolved for months, leading to lethargy inside the Beltway while U.S. theater commanders were close to panicking about the enemy’s rise. Mr. Allen eventually had enough.
Now the White House needs to find a replacement who’s up to the job, which looks to be no easy task. “Good luck with that,” stated a senior Pentagon official, “I doubt they’ll find another four-star eager to be the dog who catches that car.” A senior NATO official explained that Mr. Allen’s departure “is really a serious blow. We had little confidence before in President Obama’s ability to defeat Daesh,” the Arabic term for the Islamic State. “Now we have none.”