The only question to ask about the situation in Syria is whether Putin is purposefully trying to strengthen ISIL, aka the “Islamic State,” or is doing so inadvertently. Various estimates peg 90% of Putin’s bombs as hitting non-ISIL Syrian rebels while only 10% are said to have hit ISIL forces. Putin has turned the phrase “don’t throw out the moderate Sunni baby with the ISIL bath water” into “let’s murder all the Sunni babies, so we don’t have to worry about the ISIL bath water.”
In fact, the Russian press has shifted from claiming hits on “ISIL” to “anti-Assad forces.” And, since Syria is 85% Sunni comprising about 18 million Sunnis and really all the Sunnis are against Assad, this means that Putin has turned his entire Syria military operation into one big Russian war-crime Sunni-genocide-murder-spree.
As a preface, Putin’s Syrian “narrative” is all wrong. Bush’s war on Iraq didn’t create ISIL, Iran’s and Assad’s funneling weapons and IEDs from 2003-2009 to the Sunni al Qaeda in western Iraq laid the genetic groundwork for the Sunni extremists. So, it’s Putin’s “partners” who created the very cancer that is now the Islamic State. Great partners you got there, Vladimir!
Firstly, the “moderate rebels” held most of the Syrian territory between what were the remnants of Assad’s Regime and ISIL-held areas. What Putin did was to bomb the moderate Sunni rebels, so ISIL can take over the non-ISIL Syrian rebel positions. Putin’s bombs have actually made ISIL stronger in the “name” of ostensibly attacking ISIL.
Yes, if Putin destroys all the moderate Sunnis he will eventually get to fight ISIL. But, if Putin continues to degrade the moderates and non-ISIL Islamists, he will have made ISIL the only anti-Assad game in Syria.
Next, Putin’s Russian Orthodox explicit involvement on behalf of the Shiite Iranians has proven everything that ISIL has used as their recruitment drivers. Putin has proven ISIL was right from the start, and that it’s a Shiite/Western conspiracy to enslave and convert the Sunnis into Shiites. Given Putin’s actions, it turns out ISIL is 100% right. It is turning out to be a Shiite/Russian conspiracy to eradicate the Sunnis. Some crazy Russian Orthodox Priest even declared Putin’s Syrian attacks as a “Holy War.” The Priest’s claim of a “Russian Orthodox Holy War” on the Sunnis should get the ISIL recruitment mills going full-tilt.
It gets worse. Putin has sparked a war of mutual genocide: the Sunnis will now genocidally eradicate the Shiite Alawites, and the Russian/Iranians will genocidally attempt to eradicate the Sunnis. With Putin’s entry, the al-Nursa front has declared a war of genocide on the Alawites to match Putin’s genocide on the Sunnis.
The problem for Putin is there are still 17 million Sunnis in Syria, while there are only 2 million Alawites. All Putin has to do is take one look at Assad’s troops to see they are all 50-55 years old, whereas the Sunnis don’t look a day over 25 years old. It will be a bloodbath.
Putin has accomplished the impossible: He’s gotten all the Syrian anti-Assad rebels to share a common cause and actually agree and make “peace” with each other. So, instead of the rebels squabbling with each other, they will soon form a much more cohesive fighting force with hardened battle experience. So, again, Putin is insuring the most radical elements will control a stronger, and greater threat to the region in the aftermath of Assad and Putin’s eventual defeat.
And finally, the Syrian rebels have already started to mutate and change battle tactics, and counterattack the Assad advanced ground forces. Assad’s front-line forces don’t have the manpower to hold any significant territory. So, while Assad’s front-line forces may make some tactical headway, his rear-guard checkpoints will get ambushed and decimated. Therefore, very soon, any Assad/Hezbollah advance will face a withering attack on its supply-lines and communication.
In sum, Putin may bomb Syria to pieces, and murder millions of Sunnis, but it will boomerang and blow-up in his face. Napoleon thought he was a genius too, until he dealt with the reality of a long-line of supply and a withering dogged Russian enemy in its own territory. Does Putin think the Syrian Sunnis fighting for Allah are any less determined than his Russian countrymen were fighting for the Tsar against Napoleon? Putin is going to get his answer soon.