Of course the Russians are ready to help America eject ISIL from Raqqa, Syria:
"We are ready to coordinate our actions with the Americans, because Raqqa is in the eastern part of Syria, and the American coalition is mainly ... acting there," Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying in an interview with the Ren-TV television channel.
And the revolution in our thinking about Assad will be complete, as I predicted before the faux chemical arms deal regarding Syria was concluded:
Remember, when it comes to Assad, President Obama is approaching the end of a revolution in thinking.
President Obama came into office as someone who thought he could talk to Assad and as the head of a party whose leaders believed Assad was someone America could do business with. We believed Assad had chemical weapons though Assad never admitted this.
Then came the revolution and President Obama said Assad had to go. Indeed, President Obama even warned Assad not to use chemical weapons in order to cling to power.
Recently, President Obama and his administration portrayed Assad and his use of chemical weapons as a threat so great that we had to strike Assad quickly.
Now, even after Assad has used chemical weapons multiple times, President Obama says that we can talk to Assad through Russia as long as Assad says he gives up his chemical weapons. Russia's price for this deal will be Assad's survival, of course.
So Assad will survive. Russia will gain stature in the Middle East. Syrians will have died in large numbers in a failed revolution that will keep the people beaten down for another generation. Jihadis will scatter back to their homelands to sow mayhem. And other than a reputation for failing to oppose enemies, all we will have is a paper WMD disarmament deal (in English and French, so Kerry can read either one!) that the next president will still be trying to verify as completed.
The revolution will be over and we'll be back to where we started.
And this will be called smart diplomacy.
A true revolution turns 360 degrees, recall. [And that's the entire post. So you don't need to click through.]
Although Stratfor believes this was a revolution from behind, so to speak, it is no less a revolution in our policy because Russia did the job:
The United States had a political problem. Not only had it opposed Assad, it had been deeply aligned with anti-Assad factions. It could not suddenly become the protector of the Assad regime. At the same time, the United States, at that moment, could not afford the fall of Assad. The Russian intervention solved the problem for the United States. Assad was saved. IS was blocked and a situation that was spiraling out of control was contained.
Was this a formal deal or merely the unexpected outcome? I doubt that papers were signed but I also doubt that it was unexpected by either side.
I would like to add to the subject of the Stratfor article that Russia's seizure of Crimea gave Russia a reason to intervene in Syria to maintain their bases in Syria. Crimea is essentially a power projection platform. And projecting military power into the eastern Mediterranean Sea is a traditional Russian objective.
So that has been awakened, as well.