The news came out today that Putin is withdrawing the main part of Russian forces from Syria. It will maintain the airbase and naval base, but most of the fighter aircraft used in airstrikes and the support forces for those fighters, are being withdrawn. Putin said that the mission is completed.
For those who still cling to the idea that Russia will have a major role in the Middle East during the end times, this would seem like a reversal of what is “supposed to happen.” But for the Signposts, and particularly the Second Signpost, everything continues on course.
Iran needs Assad to stay in power, so that its Shia militants and IRGC can more easily flow men and materiel between the Mediterranean coast and Iran. Before the Russians arrived, Assad was almost on his way out. The Russians attacked the rebel strongholds in the western part of Syria, where most of the Syrian people live and where the largest cities are, so that the Assad regime would hold the key part of Syria. The rebels in the west, such as the Al-Nusra front, are almost extinguished.
Now what is left in Syria is mostly Assad’s Syria in the western part of the country, and the Islamic State (IS) in the eastern part of the country.
I thought that Russia might stick around for the Second Signpost itself to shield Iran, but apparently things do not need to happen that way. Assad himself with his consolidated grip on western Syria could be enough.
IS remains as the enemy to the west of Iran. Cleanly and conveniently, the Russians allowed Assad to consolidate western Syria while leaving IS mostly untouched. Iran still needs an enemy to the west for the Second Signpost invasion, and that enemy is still there.
This withdrawal by Russia from Syria does confirm a suspicion I have had. Russia’s strategy in the Middle East is not to support individual countries like Syria. No, its main strategy is to support Iran wherever it needs the help, for Iran is the main player in keeping all the Sunni nations – the centuries-old thorn in the side of Russia – busy.