Russia in Syria
America has been defeated by Russia in a struggle for influence over postwar Syria, experts told Politico. While at one time both countries were vying for influence over Damascus, President Trump has all but backed off as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to host talks with regional leaders, without the U.S., in the waning days of the civil war. "Putin has won," declared Ilan Goldenberg, who worked at the Pentagon and State Department under former President Barack Obama.
Trump's reluctance to commit to the region reportedly stems from his belief that Syria is a failure of Obama's making. Instead, the Trump administration's foreign policy goals center on backing Iran — a regional ally of Putin's — out of having a say on Syria. "It's become quite clear that the [Syrian President Bashar] Assad-Putin-Iran gambit has almost completely won in Syria," explained the senior vice president of the Middle East Institute, Paul Salem. "[The Russians] want to show their relevance and influence beyond the military phase" by hosting further postwar talks.
One such meeting takes place Wednesday, as Putin hosts the presidents of Iran and Turkey in the Russian town of Sochi. Putin also reportedly met with Assad on Tuesday, and later called Trump to brief him on the details of the conversation.