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19 December 2015

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Fully concur. While Obama is off vacationing in Hawaii and focusing on his legacy, and Hagel is coming out blasting Susan Rice and Obama for screwing up US Syrian policy, Kerry has his hands full for the next few months, trying to pull off something even more difficult than P5+1--but with Lavrov and Putin as his partners. Iran has to align with Russia. Assad was in big trouble over the summer, when Soleimani made his secret trip to Moscow to ask Putin to step in to Syria. Putin, as I am told, exacted a heavy price--major Gazprom contracts for the vast South Pars gas field off the shore of Iran, the biggest proven reserve in the world. Kerry has the harder sell dealing with frenemies Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. "Obama's legacy" benefits from a successful process and this is why the witches are at bay and Kerry has the latitude to act, in spite of Jarrett, Rice, Power and Nuland wanting to boil him in oil. Maybe Hagel's public attacks on Rice and Obama are calculated to give Kerry a bit more breathing room. Col. Lang's assessments of the military situation from the beginning of the Russian intervention have been spot on. The Washington talking head circuit cannot fathom that Russia has a strategy and it is working--and that it has a military and a diplomatic dimension. The Russians also realize that the Iranians don't get it either, so they have had to put pressure on Tehran to stay in line.

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