Vladimir Putin looks like a winner in Syria these days. In just three short days, Russian air support for Syrian military forces helped expand Damascus’s control toward Aleppo, a feat that President Bashar al-Assad had not been able to accomplish for the past three years. Russia also became the main broker of the Syrian cease-fire.
But many observers have warned that Putin’s military campaign in Syria may backfire at home. Russia’s 144 million people include about 20 million Muslims; the overwhelming majority are Sunnis.