Amid Russia Airstrikes, a Putin Craze Takes Hold in Mideast

By Zeina Karamvivian Salama. Amid the ornate walls of Damascus’ famed Omayyad Mosque, preacher Maamoun Rahmeh stood before worshippers last week, declaring Russian President Vladimir Putin a “giant and beloved leader” who has “destroyed the myth of the self-aggrandizing America.”

Posters of Putin are popping up on cars and billboards elsewhere in parts of Syria and Iraq, praising the Russian military intervention in Syria as one that will redress the balance of power in the region.

The Russian leader is winning accolades from many in Iraq and Syria, who see Russian airstrikes in Syria as a turning point after more than a year of largely ineffectual efforts by the U.S.-led coalition to dislodge the Islamic State militants who have occupied significant parts of the two countries. (Read more from “Amid Russia Airstrikes, a Putin Craze Takes Hold in Mideast” HERE)


Putin Says Russia’s Campaign in Syria More Effective Than U.S.

By Jake Rudnitsky and Stepan Kravchenko. Russian President Vladimir Putin defended his air and cruise-missile strikes on terror targets in Syria as two Saudi Arabian officials softened their government’s position on the fate of Bashar al-Assad.

Putin discussed his Syria campaign on Sunday with Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister Mohammed Bin Salman, who signaled a willingness to let al-Assad remain in power longer, while the foreign ministers of both nations also met to consider the situation in Syria.

Putin’s bombing campaign to support his ally Assad took the U.S. and NATO by surprise and overshadowed a flurry of diplomacy over how to tackle the conflict. As Russia builds up its military presence in Assad’s stronghold on the eastern Mediterranean Sea, U.S. President Barack Obama dismissed any notion that his leadership on the world stage was being challenged.

Now Russia is leading the diplomatic charge, with Putin in bilateral meetings with Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed, who were in Sochi in southern Russia, site of a Formula 1 auto race. Putin again called for a political resolution emanating from Assad’s government. (Read more from this story HERE)

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