23.9.15

Russia's role in Syria: a chance for peace

The Syrian conflict is reaching a breaking point, it has been going on for far too long now and it could go on like this for another five years leading to  the spread of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) both territorially and ideologically and more refugees knocking on Europe’s door.  Regardless of who is responsible for the ISIS phenomenon, political and security void is always fertile ground for groups like ISIS.

Some tried to use the refugee exodus we are witnessing from conflict zones, including Syria, to Europe to push for a military intervention against Assad and break the five-year military stalemate.  But, after Libya, we know, and cannot afford to ignore, that a military victory against Assad will give us the same results as the current stalemate, not to mention the fact that it is not assured at all, as in Libya. A military victory against Assad will embolden ISIS and sends more refugees to the shores of Europe. The region cannot afford one more failing state.

If neither a military action against Assad nor a stalemate will stem the flow of refugee and eradicate ISIS, which are the immediate concerns of rational actors in this crisis,  then adequate action in the Syrian dossier is needed.  And certainely not the kind of action that has been going on, supporting different groups to militarily challenge the government, and certainely not the kind of action some are calling for like a No Fly Zone leading to open military intervention.

With the refugee exodus, Europe has been caught up with the reality of the Syrian crisis.  It is softening its stance on Assad’s departure. The US state department has followed suit.  Kerry's latest declarations with their technical and convoluted terminology to talk about Assad's departure or Russia's presence in Syria are indications of a willingness to compromise.
In fact, the US risks losing its european allies in the halls of power if it doesn’t change its stance on Syria to ease its allies’ concerns.

The time for a political solution is ripe and Russia is well positioned to carve out this solution ; it is cordial with every country in the region and has leverage on every country in the region.  Moreover, Russia, with China in mind too, is the country who stands to lose most if the Syrian confict continues threatening it with terrorism spreading to its territory and its communities.

Russia has two incentives for actively working out a solution to the Syrian crisis, stopping terrorism from spreading and transforming its leverage in the ME into political capital on the regional and international scene.  

But for Russia to convince all actors of the seriousness of its intentions, and to give itself the means of the leverage it intends to exert, it needs to beef up its military presence in Syria.  This is how we should interpret the recent moves by Russia in Syria.  In this, Russia’s task was made easy by its long standing military cooperation and military presence in Syria. 

This is not what some have called propping up Assad or inserting itself in the region. Russia has always been in Syria, it doesn't need to 'insert' itself there.  Russia's interests are in eradicating ISIS because ISIS wants to expand its brand in the Caucasus, and beyond.  Currently, ISIS is becoming a territorial threat to the Eurasian and African continents, America being protected by two oceans (ISIS marines is not for tomorrow.) 

Russia's other interest is in officializing its role as an unavoidable regional player.  Indeed, Russia doesn't seek to become an unavoidable regional player, it already is. Contrary to the US, it has maintained good relations with every country in the region and intends to capitalize on this as well as on its positive role in carving out a deal between Iran and the P5+1.  Iran is the other regional player that has interest to see the end of the Syria crisis.  But while Iran is certainely an important regional player with Saudi Arabia, none of them has Russia's leverage in the region and can be seen as a neutral party.  Russia certainely has Iran's blessings in its moves in Syria and intends to build on them.  

Russia may be seen in some circles in the US and the West as having a partisan stance in this crisis, however, it is currently the party that's most neutral and that has diplomatic channels with every player in the crisis.

Let's see Russia's new assertiveness in Syria and the region for what it is: a chance for eradicating terrorism and a chance for peace.  Russia has proved in August 2013, with the chemical weapons agreement between Syria and the UN, that it is capable of putting the breaks to another catastrophic military intervention in the Middle East, and it is going to do it again.

2 comments:

Bill Long said...

Les Politiques, here you assert:
"Contrary to the US, [Russia] has maintained good relations with every country in the region."
[1] Please clarify: What comprises "the region" of which you speak?
[2] I share with you the perspective that the US has clearly NOT 'maintained good relations with every country" in the Levant, much less the "Middle East" (a western construct) and northern Africa. Since at least the 1950s the US has used its great wealth, firepower, and influence without restraint (and shame) to serve its own ends "in the region."
[3] During what period and within what bounds do you claim that "Russia...has maintained good relations with every country in the region"? And upon what evidential basis does this claim rest?
Thank you in advance for providing this information.

Sophia said...

Hi,

Thanks for your comment. By 'region' I mean the Middle East in general. Proof of Russia's good relations with every country in the region is the diplomatic activity that preceded and followed its air campaign in Syria. Most Middle east leaders visited Moscow before the campaign as Russia sought to convey its intentions directly through diplomatic channels.

 
Since March 29th 2006