The change in the leadership in the US from Bush to Barack Obama did lead to a change in the intensity and type of military intervention in the region, but it did not lead to a reversal or scrapping of the project. The policy continued to follow the foundation of mirroring the strategic interests of Israel; protecting and controlling the oil production and trade to secure the dollar; re-organising the geography, polity and economy of the region to parallel its own interests. The tactic of identification of problem areas grew to encompass more than mere identification of WMDs. The selective suppression of the Arab Spring and the occupation of Libya are indicative of the continuation of the GMEI project, as is the imposition of systematic sanctions against Syria and the bombing of its northern territory.
The reverberations of the policies of Obama are most evident in the rise and growth of the IS. A band of armed men declaring the intention of creating a State opposed to Israel and the West, rose within the borders of Iraq as the US troops began their withdrawal. However, it is the response of the Obama administration that needs more scrutiny than the brutality of the IS. The ability of the IS to cross from Iraq into the northern territories of Syria have been facilitated by the US. The warning to President Assad to not go on a full scale war with the IS, allowed them to percolate into the country. The second step of drone-bombing Syrian territories under the IS control led to the crises the region is plagued with today. From creating refugees to infringe on the sovereignty of Syria to its partitioning and re-aligning the internal and external players in the region, Obama has re-asserted the ambitions of the US to be well within the framework of the GMEI.
By stalling the collapse of a dictator, Russian intervention is seen as counterbalancing the US and NATO movements in Syria. President Vladimir Putin however, is continuing the Soviet policy of limited intervention to safeguard its own borders as well as prevent a development that could lead to a full-fledged regional war or another Arab-Israeli war. It needs to be remembered that post-Cold War Russia, though apprehensive of the GMEI, did not actively oppose it. It does not view the increasing US hegemony in the region as a threat or a challenge. Consequently, its intervention in Syria is limited to facilitating Bashar al-Assad to stabilise the country to the extent that the aftermath of the conflict does not spill into its own territory.
Is the Russian intervention an indicator of a possible military confrontation between the two former cold war rivals? Definitely no. The primary reason for a World War has always been a conflict between European countries that sucked the world into it, and the developments in Syria have not reached a warring magnitude. The intervention needs to be understood more in lines of an acceptance of the US policy in the region by Russia, than an opposition to it. In the long run, Russia is likely to wait for the US policy to collapse on its own rather than wage a war to either defend it or oppose it.