Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Syria withdrawal gift to Russia


December 26, 2018

Merry Christmas, Vladimir!

As much as I’d like my column this week to reflect the holiday spirit, events of last week, the week before Christmas, I think demand some urgent attention

Last week, President Donald Trump gave Russia’s Vladimir Putin a vast gift — Syria. Trump said U.S. troops are leaving, defending this move with the palpable lie that ISIS has been defeated. Russia praised the move almost before the words were out of Trump’s mouth.

With the Mueller and New York prosecutor’s probes seeming to close in on the president, it seems that Putin is cashing in favors while he still can.

What has Trump given away on behalf of U.S. taxpayers? Credibility and maybe influence over a vast portion of the Middle East.

Look at religious alignments in Syria and its neighbors.

In Syria, Putin’s buddy Bashar Assad is an Alawite, which biases the power in Syria to Shia Islam. Remember, Assad is a Ba’athist and a ruthless, self-serving despot like Saddam Hussein used to be.

That’s Putin’s kind of guy. Capone would have loved him, too.

Putin is already good buddies with Shia-ruled Iran, and the majority of the population of neighboring Iraq is Shia. Iraqi Shi’ites are already fond of Russia.

Let’s not forget Iran-backed Hamas in Lebanon, another next-door neighbor to Syria and sworn enemy of U.S.-backed Israel, which is next door to Lebanon.

Syria borders the Mediterranean Sea, and now a significant portion of the Mediterranean coast next to Lebanon and Israel could very well fall into Putin’s, er, influence.

Putin’s power in the region can only mushroom, especially if he uses the kind of persuasion he’s using in the Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. That is, a lot of guys with guns who wrap their faces in Middle Eastern head scarves but don’t speak Arabic.

The pro-Russia leaning of Shi’ites in the region will give Putin his inch, and for that, he could take thousands of square miles.

And our president may suddenly become friends with ayatollahs after nullifying the multi-nation Iran agreement because, well, because Obama signed it, that’s why.

Doesn’t that weaken U.S. interests in the Middle East? Oh, that’s right. We don’t care.

Trump says we can’t be the cops of the world, even while he attempts to torment China, piles tariffs on our allies, and tries to enforce his will over another bordering soon-to-be-ex-ally with his senseless wall.

Meanwhile, Trump cozies up to Putin, who until 2017 was considered hostile to us. Well, he still is to us, but not to our Donald.

To our miscast president, it’s better that U.S. influence disappear than the world know what the maids found on the sheets in Trump’s Moscow hotel room a few years ago, or how much the president allowed Putin’s propagandists to swing votes in 2016.

It’s clear Putin has some kind of hold over President Trump. It’s equally clear that if Putin helped elect Trump, it was not to strengthen the U.S.

I wonder, will Canada build a wall if Trump, with Putin smiling behind him, starts rounding up dissidents in our country?

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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