At his post-summit press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, Donald Trump praised the United States’ “successful campaign” that had “just about eradicated” Islamic State in Syria. IS, however, is far from dead in the region.
This would be a major mistake for several reasons. First, Russia has broken too many of its commitments in Syria to take Putin's guarantees seriously. For example, Russia has been bombing opposition positions in southwest Syria in recent days even though it signed a deescalation agreement with America and Jordan promising not to do so last year. Second, the degree of Russian leverage over Iran, or even over the Assad regime, is questionable. In the past, Iran and the regime have brushed aside Russian efforts to reshape the political and diplomatic landscape in Syria—most notably in dismissing Putin's recent statement that all foreign forces must leave the country.