Equo ne credite, Teucri. Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. (“Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even bringing gifts.”) — Laocoön, from Virgil’s Aeneid
President Obama has accepted another Trojan horse from Vladimir Putin, adding to his collection: the Syrian cease-fire that commences today.
This is simply another episode in Putin’s long-running manipulation game. Consider how the Russia-Assad-Iran axis acted this weekend: Re-emphasizing its disdain for humanitarianism, on Saturday, the axis bombed a crowded market in Idlib city. Around 50 civilians were killed. Consider, too, the ongoing deployment of axis forces into the stranglehold of rebel-held eastern Aleppo. Putin and his allies do not seek peace.
As things stand, Putin holds the strategic initiative in Syria. When Putin began his Syria offensive last year, I predicted “a significant northern offensive into Idlib province, perhaps to secure rebel-held areas of the M-5 highway that connects Homs with the northern city of Aleppo.” That’s what has happened. But understanding the axis strategy doesn’t require top-secret intelligence, it simply requires a map. It’s no coincidence that the axis has been pummeling Idlib province. They’re carving out eastern Syria under Assad’s dominion by purifying the Sunni rebellion. So far however, rebel groups in Idlib have held firm. But now, the cease-fire means those rebel offensives against Assad will stall and the axis position will only strengthen.
I wish this cease-fire was in the interests of America and the Syrian people. But it is not. Some lives may be saved in the next week. But by strengthening Assad against implacable rebel enemies who will never give in, ultimately, this deal will only expand and extend the suffering. To end the war, Assad must go.
— Tom Rogan writes for National Review Online and Opportunity Lives. He was a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and a senior fellow at the Steamboat Institute. His homepage is www.tomroganthinks.com.