Syrian President Bashar Al Assad with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sergei Chirikov / AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently floated a proposal to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, envisioning a reduced Iranian military footprint in Syria – where Russia, Israel and the US all have interests – in return for the US scaling back its ramped-up sanctions on Tehran. The offer might reflect growing Russian-Iranian competition as the two scramble to reap the monetary benefits of Syria’s key economic sectors and of reconstruction, estimated to cost more than $250 billion. While the Trump administration considers the policy dilemma the proposal presents, Moscow-Tehran tensions over the future of Syria are a worthwhile dynamic for Washington to exploit.

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