You can’t blame people for being skeptical about the recently brokered US-Russian deal to contain the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons. But when it comes to Syria, there are no clear choices. There’s a lot not to like about either President Bashar al-Assad or the rebels who are trying to oust him.
For much of the Syrian conflict, Western powers, along with the Western press, have seemed to root for the rebels. Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, meanwhile, has been unflinchingly supportive of Assad’s regime.
Putin has taken a beating in the US and European press for his support of Assad, whose security forces have used chemical weapons against their own people. But Putin’s position can’t be viewed in a vacuum. Russia is making a strategic calculation that the status quo is ultimately better for Syria and, more broadly, the Middle East than the triumph of a militantly Sunni rebel force. That doesn’t mean anyone is blind to Assad’s actions; he’s plainly a repugnant guy. All it means is that Putin thinks the Middle East will be more stable, and Russia’s interests will be better served, if Assad remains in place.
To read the full story
Jonathan Alpeyrie is a freelance photojournalist based in New York.