The Syrian Test of Trump-Putin Accord

Exclusive: The U.S. mainstream media remains obsessed over Russia’s alleged “meddling” in last fall’s election, but the real test of bilateral cooperation may come on the cease-fire in Syria, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

The immediate prospect for significant improvement in U.S.-Russia relations now depends on something tangible: Will the forces that sabotaged previous ceasefire agreements in Syria succeed in doing so again, all the better to keep alive the “regime change” dreams of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists?

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

Or will President Trump succeed where President Obama failed by bringing the U.S. military and intelligence bureaucracies into line behind a cease-fire rather than allowing insubordination to win out?

These are truly life-or-death questions for the Syrian people and could have profound repercussions across Europe, which has been destabilized by the flood of refugees fleeing the horrific violence in the six-year proxy war that has ripped Syria apart.

But you would have little inkling of this important priority from the large page-one headlines Saturday morning in the U.S. mainstream media, which continued its long obsession with the more ephemeral question of whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would confess to the sin of “interference” in the 2016 U.S. election and promise to repent.

Thus, the headlines: “Trump, Putin talk election interference” (Washington Post) and “Trump asks Putin About Meddling During Election” (New York Times). There was also the expected harrumphing from commentators on CNN and MSNBC when Putin dared to deny that Russia had interfered.

In both the big newspapers and on cable news shows, the potential for a ceasefire in southern Syria – set to go into effect on Sunday – got decidedly second billing.

Yet, the key to Putin’s assessment of Donald Trump is whether the U.S. President is strong enough to make the mutually agreed-upon ceasefire stick. As Putin is well aware, to do so…

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