Vladimir Putin shocked the world yesterday. Russian media is reporting that Putin is going to withdraw Russian Troops from Syria -- only a few months after sending them to that war-torn country. It is unclear whether the withdrawal is only for the ground troops, or for all Russian military personnel, including the air forces.
Why is Russia doing this? Some cite the enormous cost of the Russian military presence in that area, but I think the Russians have come to the conclusion that they have gotten themselves into another Afghanistan-like quagmire. They have realized that it would take hundreds of thousands more troops to win the war in Syria -- and even then it is unlikely that would quell the violence (or assure Assad stays in office -- their only ally in the Middle East).
Why can't American politicians realize this? The conflict in Syria/Iraq is not a political battle between supporters of the East or West -- and anyone who thinks that is just wrong. It is a battle between shia and sunni extremists elements -- a religious battle for both land and societal dominance for their particular versions of the muslim region. And neither Russia nor the United States has any real friends in the conflict. The groups fighting may play the U.S. and Russia to get arms and military help, but they are not friends -- and would turn on both in a minute.
Russia and the United States (or Great Britain, France, etc.) cannot win this war. All they can do is create more enemies for themselves. This religious conflict, as stupid as it is, must be settled by those countries in the Middle East. It is time for both Russia and the United States (and their allies) to realize this -- and withdraw all their troops from both Syria and Iraq.