Russia’s involvement in Syria doesn’t matter. Washington is allied with Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and the Gulf States. The United States shares influence in Iraq and Lebanon. Moscow has a close relationship with Syria, a long-time ally now a wreck of its former self. Russia has some clout with Iran, an overstretched, uneasy partner at best. Who is winning the Russo-American contest? Americans can sleep at night.
The Tehran regime is malicious, but probably less so than Washington’s Saudi partner, which has destabilized the region through its war in Yemen, abducted Lebanon’s prime minister, and supported fundamentalist Wahhabism and radical groups. Despite the administration’s bizarre fixation on Iran, the latter does not threaten America, which is multiple degrees more powerful. Israel, which possesses multiple nuclear weapons, is also able to defend itself. Iranian activity in Syria does not diminish the lethality of Israel’s deterrent.
Perennial war-hark Sen. Lindsey Graham complained that the pull-out would “be seen by Iran and other bad actors as a sign of American weakness in the efforts to contain Iranian expansion.” Actually, supporting a major ally under attack isn’t really “expansion.” (Washington does it all the time!) Anyway, plenty of other nations have reason to help constrain Tehran, whose modest influence is most felt in divided and war-ravaged states. But they certainly prefer not to act if the United States is willing to do their dirty work.