President Obama insists that the US remains as committed as ever to fighting ISIS in Syria. Despite that, the announcement of two new planned escalations in Syria are being couched almost entirely as being aimed at Russia, suggesting the US is seeing the war as a chance to one-up Russia first and foremost.
The new escalations involve throwing dramatically more weaponry at “pro-US” rebel factions, only this time having the Pentagon do it instead of the CIA, and also launching more airstrikes out of the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.
The details on how the new strikes out of Incirlik will actually work, as Turkey has often objected to the US using the base to strike ISIS if it would benefit the Kurdish forces, and the new arming of factions is aimed at linking those factions with the Kurdish forces.
Officials say the hope is that, with more American warplanes in the air over a wider chunk of ISIS territory, that would make less territory for Russian warplanes to operate in, effectively hemming them in and limiting their ability to strike ISIS themselves.
Though US officials say that the initial consideration of this plan predates Russia’s airstrikes, the emphasis on limiting Russia’s operations suggests that this, and not some sudden belief that a few more strikes would change the face of the ISIS war, is the real reason the administration suddenly decided to go ahead with the plan.