Bringing the mind back to the political debate raging worldwide a few years ago, a question arises: does the situation with President Bashar al-Assad in Syria strike a note? Back in those days he was caught reportedly using chemical weapons on his fellow citizens, the protesters throughout the country, and the international public went into a babbling rage demanding to do something in order to make Assad’s departure swift and final. Does anyone recall that besides me?
However, few months later made its appearance the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, changing the focus from the Alawite President, belonging to a Shia Muslim religious group mainly widespread in Lebanon and Syria (especially the coastal part), to the elimination of ISIS by the Free Syrian Army (or, according to some, “moderate rebels”) as the Western governments considered that, firstly, it was more prudent to get rid of Daesh and, secondly, if the Syrian regime lost his battle with them that would be acceptable. Consequently, an international coalition was formed including the Gulf states, deeply adverse to the leadership of the second oldest son of Hafez al-Assad. The strategy included arming the rebels and carrying out airstrikes against ISIL. If Assad’s men got in the way, so much the better (sorry to be redundant but the point must be clearly made).
Quite objectively, the West big experiment of arming and training the “moderate rebels” has been a dismal failure so far. Data show that of the 5,400 promised fighters only 54 have been sent into the Arab republic to fight, and about 50 of those are dead or on the run. Again, a dismal failure.
Now the news is that the Russian Federation is about to get involved in the conflict in a more direct way than just arming the Syrian armed forces.
Satellite imagery provided by AllSource Analysis confirms the recent arrival of Russian main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, and other military equipment at an airbase in Syria’s coastal Latakia province, indicating that Russia has deployed troops inside Syria. Concurrent military exercises inside Russia with the stated mission of training for long-range deployments of airborne troops suggest that Russia may intend to deploy additional forces, possibly further inside Syria. AllSource Analysis imagery of Taganrog Central airbase just east of the Ukrainian border from September 12 shows airborne troops rolling parachutes along a runway along with vehicles and tents more likely configured for sustained operations than for exercises or snap inspections. Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking ways to support the Assad regime, to thwart a possible buffer zone established by the United States and Turkey, and to embarrass the United States by positioning Russia as the leader of a new international anti-ISIS coalition. Russian mobilization may protect the Assad regime from rapid collapse, but it may also cause greater radicalization among the Syrian opposition. The Russian deployment to Syria is game-changing. It will alter the nature of international negotiations, compromise and weaken the cohesion and efforts of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, strengthen the Assad regime, and initiate direct Russo-Iranian military operations (suggesting the creation of a de facto Russo-Iranian military coalition, at least in Syria) for the first time. The U.S. and its partners must fundamentally reassess their approach to the Syrian conflict in light of this critical inflection.(Institute for the Study of War)
A spokesman for Vladimir Putin says Russia doesn’t have combat troops in Syria right now but Moscow will consider sending troops if Damascus were to ask. Amid concerns over an ongoing Russian military buildup in Syria, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem denied reports yesterday that Russian combat troops are fighting in Syria but said Syria would not hesitate to ask for Russia’s help if needed. The Putin spokesman told Russian news agencies today that if such a request is made, it will be “discussed and considered,” but he insisted the question is purely hypothetical at this stage. Yesterday, Russia urged the US and its allies to engage the Syrian government as a “partner” in the fight against ISIS. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq should coordinate its action with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government in conformity with international law. “There is no reason to evade cooperation with the Syrian leadership, which confronts that terror threat,” he said. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says Moscow is happy to talk to Washington about its military cooperation with Syria, “so that military experts on both sides could discuss the relevant issues.”
All that is just ducky. Washington D.C. and its arm NATO are confronting Moscow in Ukraine and Central Europe and now that same confrontation could move into the Middle East and therefore add more fuel to the fires of confusion in the region. After all the posturing by the White House over the rule of Assad and the echo chamber that kept demanding that the Syrian leader be made to leave or die, what does all this info have to say about the future of the Assad regime? Nowadays there are rumblings of a political solution to the situation in Syria and that includes Bashar al-Assad. A number of countries support it, like France, Switzerland, Iran, Russia and Brazil. But what would a political solution look like?
- Everyone has now come to understand that Syria is battling takfiri terrorism. As such, the international community must give priority to fighting terrorism in Syria.
- The provision of immediate humanitarian aid is a religious and humanitarian duty of the international community.
- Reinforcing the political track and facilitating comprehensive talks is the most appropriate method to achieve a political solution.
- Alongside national talks inside Syria, boosting genuine talks at both the regional and the international level is very important. In this context, the UN’s neutral role is significant.
After a couple of years of the “Assad must go” mantra it now appears as if the ice is thinning on that strategy. If there is to be a solution to such a situation in Syria then there is only one hope. As held by Dr. Bassam Haddad, Director of the Middle East Studies Program at George Mason University:
The only solution to this is something that is akin to a political solution where the serious international actors, the ones that are powerful, can come together force—literally force—the local players on all sides to actually come together and find a political solution. There is no other solution. There is no military solution to this. And the more dangerous that the chemical weapons that President Obama is discussing is the more reason to actually push for a serious political solution. There is NO way that this situation can end without a political solution…..it will continue and add to the problems of the people each day it continues. Let me reiterate: “There is NO end to the situation without a political solution”
We may beat the war drums endlessly. But without that political solution the war drums are nothing but much unnecessary noise. Turn the page!
From the exhausted mind of Chuq.