Friday, December 14, 2012 at 5:41 AM

Why Putin, Not Obama, Is the Master of Assad’s Fate

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.

One can be forgiven for thinking that, with those words, President Obama sealed Assad’s fate as surely as, with a thumb down, a Roman emperor sealed that of a gladiator.

After all, as leader of the world’s only superpower, Obama can seal the fate of more men with the stroke of his pen than Commodus ever could with the show of his thumb – as the few remaining al-Qaeda leaders now cowering in caves from Obama’s aerial drones will attest.

Yet the Washington Post quotes him pronouncing those seemingly fateful words well over a year ago (on August 8, 2011).

This raises the question: How on earth has Assad managed not only to survive, but to massacre tens of thousands of the people Obama seemed so concerned about? The answer, frankly, can be summed up in one name: Vladimir Putin.

For the simple fact is that while Obama was aiming to deal with Assad as a twenty-first century, multilateral statesman, Putin was aiming to score geo-political points as a twentieth century, bipolar cold warrior.

Specifically, while Obama steadfastly refused to supply weapons to anti-Assad forces to back up his words, Putin wasted no time supplying Assad with all he needed to destroy them – no doubt hoping to make Syria as much a satellite state for Russia today as Cuba was for the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.

But Putin is no fool.  He knows better than to have blood still dripping from his hands when this Syrian dictator falls. Which is why he has begun washing his hands of Assad:

Russia’s top Middle East diplomat and the leader of NATO offered dark and strikingly similar assessments of the embattled Syrian president’s future on Thursday, asserting that he was losing control of the country after a nearly two-year conflict that has taken 40,000 lives and has threatened to destabilize the Middle East.

(New York Times, December 13, 2012)

In other words, for the sake of Putin’s reputation, the time really has come for President Assad to … flee.

Related commentaries:
Assad massacres with impunity

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