The Obama administration has quietly voiced warnings that its putative deal with the Russian government is at a breaking point and said it is running out of patience over Moscow’s prevarication and failed promises on Syria. However, there is a clear contradiction between the stance of the US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who is skeptic about Russian intentions and military cooperation with Moscow, and that of the Secretary of State John Kerry, who is always keen to shake the hand of and exchange smiles with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. This in part explains the Russian diplomacy’s confidence that Obama’s dithering and weakness will not give way, allowing Moscow to continue to act without worrying about the seriousness of US threats.
Also, Russia is confident Obama will not suddenly show courage in the last months of his term, especially with regard to military intervention in Syria, and will not break his promise about not sending US forces to fight in faraway lands and in others’ wars, not to mention the fact that he factors in the Iranian element and its implications for his legacy strongly in his calculations. Obama has tied his own hands through the nuclear deal with Iran and now fears anything that could undermine it, leading him to acquiesce to Iran’s regional meddling and alliance with the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
US-Russian military cooperation is plausible because the status quo in Syria cannot last forever and Russia needs an exit strategy from the quagmire it is nearly inRaghida Dergham