Obama in wonderland? US ‘schizophrenic’ on Syria as Kurds, govt forces advance

The US president has claimed that Russian involvement in Syria is a sign of weakness and has pressed for regime change in Damascus, brushing aside ongoing peace talks and ignoring steady gains by the Syrian army and Kurdish forces against terrorists.

“If somebody’s strong, then you don’t have to send in your army to prop up your ally,” President Barack Obama said on Tuesday, taking a break from the ASEAN summit in California to speak to the press about the US Supreme Court and the Syrian crisis.

“They have legitimacy in their country, and they are able to manage it themselves, and then you have good relations with them,” Obama added. “You send in your army when the horse you’re backing isn’t effective.”

Obama was doubling down on a claim made in December last year that Russia was getting bogged down in an “inconclusive and paralyzing civil conflict” in Syria. He dismissed the recent victories of the Syrian Arab Army and the Kurdish fighters north of Aleppo as “initial advances,” and said that three quarters of Syria was still controlled by forces other than the government in Damascus.

“What would be smarter would be for Russia to work with the United States and other parties in the international community to try to broker some sort of political transition,” Obama said.

“The fact that Putin finally had to send his own troops, and his own aircraft … and invest [in] this massive military operation … was not a testament to a great strength; it was a testament to the weakness of Assad’s position,” Obama reiterated, refusing to recognize the anti-terrorist nature of Russian military operation in Syria.

The US president mentioned Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) only once during his “Putin propping up Assad” answer, when he quite ironically said that Russia’s actions “has not distracted us from continuing to focus on ISIL.”

Obama is blaming Russia because the US has been working to subvert the Syrian government for years, inciting and arming the rebels, Todd Pierce, a retired Major with the US Army JAG Corps, told RT.

“He doesn’t want to give Russia any legitimacy, not does he want to give Syria, or Assad any legitimacy. The intruders, the ones operating from outside the country are in fact the US and the West,” Pierce said. “Assad is the legal government of Syria, and Russia has been invited in to help them. Inherently they have legitimacy because of that.”

The president’s remarks show that Washington does not care about defeating the so-called Islamic State, but has reverted to the old policy of championing regime change in Damascus, Brian Becker of the antiwar coalition ANSWER told RT.

“Russia’s intervention, not the US, is turning out to be the decisive international factor aiding the SAA, which has done the bulk of the fighting and dying… to stop ISIL,” Becker said.

According to Becker, Russia’s intervention has “irreversibly changed the military dynamic” in Syria, with both IS and the militants backed by the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar losing ground since October 2015. Washington seems more upset than pleased at these reversals.

“It shows that the US policy was a catastrophic failure,” Becker argued, adding that prioritizing the ousting of President Bashar Assad over defeating IS makes US foreign policy “look downright schizophrenic.”

Just months ago, terrorist groups were on the doorstep of Damascus, and now they are in full retreat on all fronts, Becker noted. “How can you say that this is an expression of weakness? It’s really an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ type of view of the world, where reality gets turned upside down.”

Advances by the Syrian Army and Kurdish fighters north of Aleppo have alarmed Turkey, which has been shelling Syrian territory since last week. According to US State Department spokesman Mark Toner, the US has urged Turkey to stop firing across the border – unless it is targeting IS. So far, Turkey has ignored Washington’s advice, and the bombardment has continued.

READ MORE: Turkey launched 100+ artillery strikes on Syrian towns in Aleppo – Russian military

Washington has sent weapons, ammunition and Special Forces advisers to the Kurdish militia in northern Syria, hoping to use them as ground forces against the IS. In recent weeks, however, the Kurds have been liaising with the Syrian Army and the Russian air group instead, delivering a crushing defeat to the Islamist rebels in the so-called Azaz Corridor, between Aleppo and the Turkish border.

READ MORE: UNSC urges Turkey to 'comply with intl law' in Syria after Russia requests meeting

Russia has signed on to the UN-led peace process, but continues to recognize President Assad as the legitimate authority in Syria and maintains that the Syrians should be free to choose their leadership without outside intervention.

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