When wishful thinking and malice combine
The Guardian with the goods:
Britain has said Russia could be trying to carve out an Alawite mini-state in Syria for its ally President Bashar al-Assad by bombing his opponents instead of fighting Islamic State militants.
“Is Russia really committed to a peace process or is it using the peace process as a fig leaf to try to deliver some kind of military victory for Assad that creates an Alawite mini state in the north-west of Syria?” Hammond told reporters in Rome.
To comprehend the mind-boggling stupidity of London's foreign minister note that Assad controls the majority of Syria's population centers. Damascus government controls areas that are still home to around 10 million Syrians compared to 2 million for ISIS, non-ISIS Islamists and Kurdish YPG each:
There is no reason for Assad and his supporters to agree to a political transition whereby a real transfer of power could take place because they still control most of populated Syria.
A propagandist claim by opposition sympathisers that Assad’s forces only control 17 per cent of Syrian territory, implying that they have only a weak grip on the country, is highly misleading because so much of Syria is desert or semi-desert.
The real balance of power between the main players in Syria is better expressed by the figures for population in areas held by the different sides.
'The French cartographer Fabrice Balanche at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy estimates that the population of Syria is now down to 16 million because of the exodus of refugees (it was 23 million before the war). Of these, 10 million people are in government-held districts and 2 million each are in Isis, non-Isis rebel and Kurdish territory.
In addition to being the single strongest faction in the Syrian Civil War by far, the government side also seems to have regained initiative and is making strides against Islamist primarily in Latakia and recently around Aleppo.
Are Russians carving out a tiny 2 million Alawite mini-state for Assad in Syria? Philip Hammond can only wish they were, because it actually looks like that what they're really doing is successfully helping Damascus get on the way to restoring the Syrian state over the entirety of its non-Kurdish population.