The newest chapter in Syria’s war could be its bloodiest yet
The worst development in the U.S. policy on Syria would be seriously weighing cooperation with Russia
In Syria’s five-year long conflict that has left 320,000 dead and triggered a stupefying refugee crisis, the worst for Syrians, cruelly, could be yet to come. Russia’s looming offensive against Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime, including the ISIS but likely not limited to, will prolong the conflict and further destabilize the region. And once again, Syrian citizens will bear the dire consequences of the newest chapter in the war that begins with President Vladmir Putin publicly confirming that he seeks to secure the future of Bashar al-Assad’s disgraced regime.
In a particularly candid statement, Putin confirmed during an interview with 60 Minutes that the assertion he is “trying to save the Assad administration because they've been losing ground and the war has not been going well for them,” is in fact accurate. To this assertion posed by Charlie Rose, Putin responded, “Well, you're right.”
Meanwhile, Hezbollah has fully embraced Russia’s increasing involvement in the war, with chief Hassan Nasrallah calling it a “great development.” It is worth noting that such inevitable support is what prompted a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Putin prior to Nasrallah’s speech. Reports indicated the leaders both agreed they would “coordinate military actions over Syria” with Netanyahu announcing they had "agreed on a mechanism to prevent…misunderstandings." Despite this, it is likely Hezbollah will continue attempting to reap the benefits of its long-term involvement in Syria and equally as likely Israel will continue maintaining its policy of thwarting the militant group’s attempts at transferring strategic weaponry to Lebanon. Such a quagmire could impact Russia-Israel relations though it is likely in the immediate term Moscow would not intervene in any Israeli operation targeting Hezbollah in Syria. That said, how Moscow responds to any potential Israeli attack directly targeting Assad regime positions will depend on just how far Russia is willing to go in Syria.
As the Russian military continues escalating its involvement in the war-town country, each new week brings additional evidence that the official U.S. Syrian rebel training program has failed disastrously. These failures will fuel the Russian narrative that Moscow is heroically stepping in to complete what the United States has failed to accomplish.
The worst development in the heavily pockmarked-with-failures U.S. policy on Syria would be seriously weighing cooperation with RussiaBrooklyn Middleton
Meanwhile, with ISIS’s constant documentation of their own crimes and Assad’s constant burying of his, the barbarity of the Assad regime seems to have been forgotten by some. The utterly deluded notion, that Assad is any way less barbaric – or any less of a strategic threat – than ISIS, defies copious evidence of the contrary. President Putin was recently quoted stating that, “By the way, people are running away not from the regime of Bashar Assad, but from ISIS.” Such an illogical conclusion willfully ignores the reality that the Assad regime has killed far more Syrians than ISIS or any other nefarious actor operating in the country. When Russia begins executing airstrikes on behalf of the regime, the number of Syrian refugees fleeing will increase.
The worst development in the heavily pockmarked-with-failures U.S. policy on Syria would be seriously weighing cooperation with Russia that ultimately aids in propping up the regime. The Syrian war has to come to an end and ISIS has to be defeated but Russian involvement that ensures Assad’s future rule also ensures a future of more war.
Brooklyn Middleton is an American Political and Security Risk Analyst currently based in New York City. She has previously written about U.S. President Obama's policy in Syria as well as Bashar al-Assad's continued crimes against his own people. She recently finished her MA thesis on Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, completing her Master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies. You can follow her on Twitter here: @BklynMiddleton.
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