By Xander Snyder
The era of foreign intervention in Syria is coming to an end – at least that’s what Russian President Vladimir Putin said when Bashar Assad, Syria’s president, visited Sochi last week. Granted, Putin’s statement was ambiguous – “in connection with the significant victories … of the Syrian army … foreign armed forces will be withdrawn from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic” – but Russia’s Syria envoy clarified the next day that Putin was, in fact, calling on all militaries to vacate the country.
Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with Iran, which has been cooperating with Russia in support of the Assad government. Iran rejected Russia’s announcement, insisting that it deployed its military at the behest of the Syrian government. Iran has its own reasons for being in Syria, of course, regardless of what the government in Damascus wants. It means to establish greater command of the Middle East and acquire land access to Leban