By giving Turkey a green light to invade northern Syria, the U.S. upended the balance of power in the Middle East with a single stroke.
Vladimir Putin is now the indispensable strategic arbiter in Syria. None of the remaining pieces on the broken chessboard can move without Mr. Putin's hand.
Mr. Assad, the Kurds, Turkey and Israel all now depend on Moscow's approval to advance their interests in Syria. This process has been sealed by sudden windfall this week, all without the firing of a single Russian bullet. All roads to Syria now run through Moscow. Mr. Putin could hardly ask for more.
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Jonathan Spyer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, and is a research fellow at the Middle East Forum and at the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy.