Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan policy institute, recently appeared with Amara Sohn-Walker on CNN International to discuss Russia’s recent announcement to withdraw some of its military forces from Syria.
Amara Sohn-Walker: Mark Dubowitz CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mark appreciate your time. So first off to this announcement of partially withdrawing Russian troops from Syria, I know you’re going to be watching this closely, do you expect Putin to keep his word and follow through on this partial withdrawal?
Mark Dubowitz: I think Putin will probably do a partial withdrawal but he will always keep an eye on developments in Syria and will probably rotate Russian troops back in if need be but the reality is, is that Putin, the Iranians, and Assad have won and President Obama had predicted that Putin would be trapped in the Syrian quagmire, and unfortunately Putin has used Russian airpower, Iranian and Hezbollah troops to take back Syria on behalf of Bashar Assad and his murderous regime.
Amara Sohn-Walker: Propping him up. So big picture here, because Putin’s been on this tour of the Middle East, he visited Syria, Egypt, and now he’s in Turkey and obviously optically this kind of highlights and underscores Russia’s influence in the Middle East region, what is the overall goal for Putin with this trip?
Mark Dubowitz: Well Putin is demonstrating that he’s back in the Middle East. It was in 1973 when the Egyptians threw the Soviets out of Egypt and now all these years later, Putin is back in Cairo, the Russians are establishing an air base there, they’re going to be able to get rights to fly their planes over Egyptian airspace, so Putin is back, he’s doing nuclear deals with the Egyptians, with the Turks, and he’s establishing himself as a major power player in the Middle East after essentially eight, nine years of the United States not pushing against Iranian and Russian aggression.
Amara Sohn-Walker: Yeah, he also threw in his two cents about his thoughts on President Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we know that decision by the US president essentially isolated him from US allies in Europe and in the Middle East but with President Putin speaking out, condemning the US actions, what’s going on here? Is Putin trying to position himself to play a bigger role in the mid-east peace process?
Mark Dubowitz: Well it’s ludicrous actually because Vladimir Putin and Russia actually recognize Jerusalem as Israel capital before the United States, before the Trump announcement, in fact it happened a number of months ago. So what Putin has done is basically he’s taking advantage of the recent decision, hypocritically of course, but he’s also trying to establish himself as a major power player who’s got good relationships with the Arabs, good relationships with the Iranians, and with the Israelis, and he’s trying to make it very clear, like he did to President Obama, make it clear to President Trump that if you want to do business in the Middle East, there’s only one address and that’s his address in Moscow. You’ve got to go see him because he’s the guy that can deliver.
Amara Sohn-Walker: Yep, asserting himself on the global stage. Mark Dubowitz, we appreciate you joining us for your analysis, CEO for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Thank you for your time.