"One of the calmest periods [in Damascus] since the start of the war," is due to Russia's hit on Jaysh al Islam chief Zahran Alloush, Reuters wrote on Friday, citing local sources.
Alloush was something of a hero among some Sunnis but as we said in the wake of the airstrike that killed him in December, he was, in reality, a radical militant who advocated the extermination of Alawites and Shiites in Syria.
His death was emblematic of what the Russian intervention represents to many Syrians who are still loyal to Bashar al-Assad and the Alawite government. As we've noted before, regardless of how skeptical you are regarding the Western media's portrayal of the Assad government, there's no argument to be made that Assad is some kind of benevolent statesman. He's not. Plain and simple. Indeed, he himself admits that the Mid-East isn't ready for democracy (he's said as much on a number of occasions). But the fact is this: Sunni extremist elements have made life a living hell in Syria and the country was much better off when Assad was firmly in power. Even if he wielded that power irresponsibly.
So when Russia kills commanders like Alloush, the Syrian people feel some sense of hope that at the very least, Vladimir Putin, the Ayatollah, and Bashar al-Assad will be able to restore some sense of normalcy to everyday life. For those in the West who constantly spew the whole "Syrians want democracy and it's the international community's duty to support the opposition to that end" line, have a look at the images from the aftermath of the suicide blasts that killed dozens in Homs and Damascus last Sunday (see here).
If that's what a "democratic revolution" looks like, then we can assure you that Syrians would just prefer to be governed by an autocrat.
In any event, we say all of that to introduce the following punchline and image. From Reuters: "Bashar al-Seyala, who owns a souvenir shop in the Old City, said he had just sold out of mugs printed with Putin's face."
Also visible are cups emblazoned with the face of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. We imagine they're selling out as well.
So tell us again John Kerry, about how Syrians want the US to "liberate" their country and rid them of an evil dictator and rollback Iranian influence.
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Forget Goldman's muppetizing recos. Zero Hedge top trade idea for the remainder of Q1: Long Putin wearing sunglasses mugs.