In the grand geopolitical framing that informs most Western analysis of the Syrian conflict, the United States has effectively ceded Syria to Russia and Iran. The US military campaign was regularly criticised for its limited scope in only targeting Islamic State group (IS) while not engaging regime military targets, except in a few incidents – so far.
These battlefield strategies paralleled feeble political efforts to shore up the United Nations-led Geneva peace process. This is taken by many, especially hawkish advocates of military intervention, as a serious abdication of US responsibility and a sign of decreasing US power.
But such assumptions that there are geopolitical winners and losers betray the trajectory of both US and Russian policy as well as the compatibility of both countries’ strategies toward Syria.