Aaron Miller: US may need Russian help more on Iran than Syria


Veteran US diplomat and new Al Monitor columnist, Aaron David Miller, takes a hard-nosed look on the front page at the miserable Syria options available. His conclusion, that the idea du jour that Russia can be persuaded to switch horses from Assad is worth a try, but is probably a long shot:

The thinking is that the Russians may be prepared to bail on the Assad family if remnants of the regime can be included in a transition allowing Moscow to maintain its influence. This variation of the Yemeni approach, which is to squeeze out the autocrat but leave some of the old regime in place, may be worth a try. But the odds are long for its success.

First, it’s not at all clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin, having seen Russia diddled by the Americans and Europeans on the Libyan intervention will want to be played the fool again. … Indeed, Russia’s insistence that Iran be brought in as part of a new contact group suggests that Putin is in no hurry to solve the Syria problem.

Among his points which most resonates:

We may well have to choose between Putin’s cooperation on Iran and Syria.

And in some ways, it already seems evident that both Washington and Moscow have de facto chosen to cooperate more on Iran.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov heads to Tehran tomorrow, before Moscow hosts the next round of P5+1/Iran talks getting underway next week.