John Kerry went to Moscow on Tuesday and was absolutely elated when he stumbled on a Dunkin Donuts:
But America’s top diplomat didn’t travel halfway around the world just to get coffee (we don't think). He also met with Sergei Lavrov and Vladimir Putin to discuss (what else?) Syria. You can get a decent idea of which side prevailed by taking a quick look at the following priceless image captured during a discussion between three of the world’s most powerful government officials:
In short, Kerry ended up conceding once and for all that the fate of Bashar al-Assad has effectively been backburnered for the time being. That’s a painful concession for Washington to make. After all, the whole idea was to topple the Assad government by arming, funding, and training a hodgepodge of Sunni extremists. Now, the US is effectively being forced into a situation where the proxy armies of America’s regional allies will be systematically dismantled only instead of destroying them after Assad fell and a puppet government was installed in Damascus (which was likely to original plan), they’re being routed by Assad himself with the help of the Russians and the Iranians.
Put simply: Assad isn’t going anywhere in the near-term.
On Friday we get still more evidence that the West is begrudgingly coming to terms with the fact that Assad will be sticking around for the foreseeable future, as Bild (citing anonymous sources) says Germany is set to establish an intelligence cell in Damascus. Note the characterization of Assad as a "torturer":
“Germany's spy agency is working again with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's secret service to swap information on Islamist militants,” Reuters writes, citing the German daily.
Reuters continues: “Citing well-informed sources, the mass-circulation newspaper said German foreign intelligence BND agents had been traveling regularly to Damascus for some time for consultations with Syrian colleagues.”
Bild goes on to say that the BND intends to establish a station in Damascus imminently where agents will take up permanent positions. That could pave the way for the reopening on the German embassy, which was shuttered in 2012. As Sputnik reminds us, "diplomatic relations were broken off three years ago when, the then Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, expelled the Syrian ambassador from Germany [and] the German ambassador to Damascus was withdrawn and the embassy closed for safety reasons."
You'll recall that Germany is gearing up to join the military effort in Syria. Initially, Berlin will send one warship (to "protect" the French carrier), 1,200 troops, and six Tornado ECRs to the country.
The idea behind the BND's cooperation with Damascus is to establish a fixed communication channel for use in the event a German Tornado pilot is downed.
Apparently, Berlin isn't keen on seeing one of its pilots executed in mid-parachute by US-armed FSA fighters or, alternatively, burned alive by one of Qatar's proxy armies.
If Bild's report is accurate, it raises all manner of interesting questions about the West's ongoing military campaign in Syria. If Germany, France, and Britain adopt a more conciliatory stance vis-a-vis Damascus than the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, Washington will need to figure out how to reconcile its hardline stance towards cooperating with Assad in the war on terror with the divergent approach adopted by America's Western allies.
Ultimately, this is yet more proof of just how senseless all of this is. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost and millions of people have been displaced only for the entire debacle to come full circle with Western powers looking to cooperate with the same government they sought to overthrow.