The greatest analytical challenge in trying to understand the Syrian civil wars overcoming the propensity to see the world as it was and not as it is. It is tempting to look at Syria on a map and imagine that one day soon it could be put back together – if only a resolution could be found during diplomatic meetings in Astana or Istanbul. It is also tempting to view the U.S. and Russian interventions in Syria as an extension of the Cold War, and to interpret every move by each side as part of a zero-sum contest for influence. But these frameworks are outdated, and they are inadequate for either the current situation in Syria or its future.
This is not to say that Russian and U.S. interests will line up perfectly or that this will lead to a U.S.-Russia detente. Overall, however, Russia and the U.S. will have more shared strategic interests than differences in the Middle East for the next 10 years.
About the Author:
Jacob L. Shapiro is Director of Analysis for Geopolitical Futures, GPF