(3) Assad (with an asterisk)
The man without a country could also become a man without his chemical weapons. Yet implementing the chemical weapons arrangement will require keeping Assad in power. For now, that's a win for Syria's president -- as is avoiding a military strike -- even if he loses a strategic asset.
Nonetheless, Assad's two main allies (Russia and Iran) can't be entirely happy about how this whole affair transpired on the Syrian side. Neither the Russians nor the Americans accepted Assad's preconditions for moving forward on the chemical weapons proposal. And, whether or not he authorized the August 21 attack, he looks reckless, incompetent, or weak.
Then, there is the consideration of how this affects Assad's relationship with Russia. Moscow has billions invested in contracts, debt, prospects of future business, and a naval base in Syria, all of which have Assad's name on them. If he goes, they all go, too. And Assad can't be certain where Moscow is going or what kind of future deal Putin might be tempted to strike with the Americans.
(4) Obama -- and John Kerry, too (with an asterisk)
In the wake of this deal, will the president and his activist secretary of state be viewed as strategic geniuses, exquisite masters of the calibration of force and diplomacy? I don't think so. It's too late for that. Too many twists and turns, ups and downs, false starts and stops, and inconsistencies in language and tactics. But there's no doubt that the two are looking much better now than they have since the crisis began. After all, it was the president's willingness (however reluctantly) to put force on the table and his pivot to Congress (however weak it made him appear, particularly when he didn't have the votes) that opened up the space for Putin's seizing on an idea that had been raised before.
Let's also remember that the Syrian crisis has been a dog's lunch for the president from the get-go. Until now, Obama had three options on Syria, all of them bad: do nothing in the face of the largest single use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them against the Kurds; develop a comprehensive military strategy, including arming the rebels with serious weapons; or take the middle road of a limited strike. Now, the president has a fourth option: avoid military action and maybe get Assad's chemical weapons offline, weaken him, and perhaps, in cooperation with the Russians, initiate a broader process to end the civil war.
What's more, even if the follow-up proves fantastical, the new framework will be welcomed by the American public and by Congress, more so than a limited strike. If the administration doesn't try to oversell the deal or portray themselves as a bunch of Talleyrands, Gladstones, and Metternichs, it could get out of this crisis without any more damage to its image -- which has suffered from the Keystone Cops-style handling of the situation -- and with a fair share of the credit, too.
For Iran, a diplomatic solution to the chemical weapons crisis is far preferable to a military strike. Whether or not congressional opposition to U.S. military action in Syria will encourage Iran to believe that Obama won't act against its nuclear program is impossible to say. But Tehran -- which is no fan of chemical weapons, given Iraq's use of gas against Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war -- has done much to preserve the military balance on the ground in Assad's favor. A political deal keeps their man in Damascus in power. Also, like the Russians, Iran probably fears the impact of repeated strikes. Once the glass ceiling on military action is broken, the pressure, and even expectations, for U.S. action might rise. For now, that's no longer a concern.