This Is What Russia REALLY Fears in Syria
"Putin has been extremely concerned about the expansion of radical Salafism and Wahhabism into Russian heartland, potentially affecting the ideology of the growing number of Russian Muslims."
Only in this way can both Iran fulfill its historic ambition of having an outlet to the Mediterranean, and Russia acquire a sphere of influence deserving of a resurgent world power, projecting itself as the protector of minorities. No doubt, this strategy is ambitious and fraught with danger. Nevertheless, it is the duplicity, hypocrisy, impotence, and selfishness of Arab Sunni leadership that will mostly underwrite this strategy. The question is what United States is going to do about it? Creating red lines in both Iraq and Syria and enforcing them as part of a strategy cognizant of Russian and Iranian ambitions are past due for Washington.
Robert G. Rabil is professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author most recently of Salafism in Lebanon: From Apoliticism to Transnational Jihadism (Georgetown University Press, 2014).
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Alex Beltyukov