In the Middle East, Russia is reasserting its power
The Economist
 
Serving as a power-broker in Syria has helped Russia to cultivate relationships. It strives to maintain contacts across the Sunni-Shia and Israeli-Arab divides. While fighting alongside Iran in Syria, Mr Putin helped broker an oil-supply pact with Saudi Arabia. He has also developed a rapport with Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, repaired ties with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the downing of a Russian jet over Syria, and maintained friendly links with Israel’s Mr Netanyahu, even angling for a more active role in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 
“They go out of their way to talk with everyone in a way that the Americans don’t,” says Mark Katz of George Mason University.
 
Rouhani to visit Putin in Moscow as Iran and Russia move closer
Stars and Stripes
 
 
Still, the level and scale of the cooperation – including Russia's use of an Iranian air base for Syrian operations last fall – has been unprecedented, analysts say. The partnership has been driven by the two countries' shared goals in Syria, where a rebellion has threatened Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of both Iran and Russia.
 
"Since the Russians got more heavily involved in Syria, the relationship between Moscow and Tehran has entered a new phase," said Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
 
Russia-Iran Relations Starting From 16th Century and Up to the Present Day
Sputnik International
 
Russian-Iranian political dialogue is based on corresponding or similar positions of both countries regarding majority of issues on the global and regional agendas, including the creation of a multipolar world order, strengthening the role of the United Nations in international affairs, countering new challenges and threats, the Syrian and Iraqi peace settlements, and the situation in Afghanistan.
 
Russia proceeds from the assumption that cooperation with Iran is an important condition for guaranteeing its national interests and strengthening stability in the South Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East.
 
UN: Russia, Iran, Turkey must hold talks to stop Syria violence
Middle East Monitor
 
Russia, Iran and Turkey need to convene more Syrian ceasefire talks as soon as possible to bring the situation on the ground under control, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Friday night.
 
De Mistura is mediating political talks in Geneva, while a separate series of talks in the Kazakh capital Astana – arranged by Russia, Iran and Turkey – are supposed to guarantee the ceasefire.
 

De Mistura said he was hoping to see “incremental steps” and said: I am not expecting miracles, I am not expecting breakthroughs and I am not expecting a breakdown.

 
Congress Is Missing in Action as Trump Escalates War in Syria Amid Russia Probe
Truth-Out
 
At the same time, in northern Syria, US warplanes and artillery units launched strikes against the Islamic State to cover for helicopters ferrying Syrian fighters and their US military advisors behind enemy lines. The operation has set the stage for a long and presumably bloody siege of Raqqa, the Islamic State's self-proclaimed capital. At least 33 people were killed when an airstrike by the US-lead coalition hit a school where civilians were hiding from the fighting, according to The Guardian. The number of US troops in Syria as grown from a couple hundred to at least 1,000 over the past few weeks.
 
"This represents a very serious escalation, and so far the media really isn’t reporting on it," said James Carden, the head editor for the American Committee for East-West Accord. Carden describes the group, a committee of academics, business leaders and former dignitaries, as essentially "pro-détente."
 
The US has launched hundreds of deadly airstrikes in Syria, Iraq and Yemen in recent months, but putting boots on the ground in Syria signals a new level of participation in a war that Russia is also fighting. The Syrian government's ambassador to the United Nations claimed recent US military actions constitute an "illegitimate" invasion.
 
Russia 'to train US-allied Kurds in Syria'
Telegraph.co.uk
 
Moscow and Washington have both wooed the Syrian Kurds as an effective fighting force capable of taking and holding territory from the Isil terror group and other jihadist forces.
A Syrian Kurdish diplomatic mission opened in Moscow in February 2016. Although the office is not officially recognized by the Russian foreign ministry, the fact it was allowed to open was seen as signal of Moscow’s interest in a closer relationship with the YPG and a deliberate snub to Ankara.  
 
Putin and Xi Combine to Outsmart Trump
Newsweek
 
Meanwhile, Russia and China have increased their joint activity since President Trump took office. They recently announced plans to hold their second missile defense drill later this year. China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange announced closer cooperation between the commercial banks of the two countries, expanding trade and economic ties.
 
What Americans Need To Know If Russia Intervenes in Libya's Civil War
Fortune
 
Closer ties to Libya would also offer Russia the chance to extend its reach further along the Mediterranean’s southern littoral – i.e. NATO’s southern flank. Russia could, for example, seek to deploy advanced anti-access, area-denial systems along the Libyan coast, significantly enlarging the anti-access bubble that it has already established in the Eastern Mediterranean with similar deployments in Syria – a bubble that was already raising significant concern with top U.S. military commanders a year ago.
 
Influence over Libya meanwhile offers Russia leverage over Europe when it comes to the challenge posed by the increasingly deadly central Mediterranean migration route, which begins in Libya.