While President Trump wasted time griping about coverage of his Inauguration crowd size, Russian boss Vladimir Putin got busy making a heck of a deal that threatens U.S. influence in the Middle East.
On Inauguration Day Russia inked a long-term agreement to greatly enlarge its military presence in Syria, more than doubling the space for warships (including nuclear subs) in Russia’s only Mediterranean port and securing rights to a major air base.
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad looks stronger than ever, thanks to Putin, whose price for that appears to be ensuring Russia’s ability to deploy forces in Syria for the next half-century and perhaps beyond.
Also, Putin’s sway over Turkey grows. Officials there are suggesting publicly for the first time that Turkey would accept a peace deal in Syria’s six-year-old war that would allow Mr. Assad to stay in power.
What’s happening here is the outflow of perceptions that the U.S. is withdrawing from the region under Trump. And Putin is picking up the slack.