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Beyond the shelling and war management in Syria

The war goes on due to the absence of balance against Russia and Iran, which support Damascus

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

The only right thing the US did in Syria in the past five years was an airstrike that mistakenly targeted regime troops. Washington apologized, but Moscow has never done so when its troops have shelled Syrian opposition posts.

If US troops repeatedly shelled regime troops and allied militias, intentionally or otherwise, there would be a desire to negotiate a peaceful solution to this tragedy. However, the war goes on due to the absence of balance against Russia and Iran, which support Damascus. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was born due to this imbalance. It is also why the Syrian regime rejects any solutions that do not restore its power over the entire country.

This is the first time regime forces have been shelled by the US, after enjoying air supremacy for years. This supremacy has made Syrian President Bashar al-Assad feel that his regime is secure regardless of how many troops and battles he loses, so he refuses to accept a reasonable political solution that ends the crisis.

Was the shelling intentional, as some Assad-affiliated media claim? Of course not, because the US could have justified it and shifted the blame to the regime or Russia. However, Washington admitted it was a mistake due to an absence of coordination. Ever since Moscow announced its participation in the war, Washington clearly wants to avoid a clash between the coalition forces it leads and those allied with the Assad regime.

Ever since Moscow announced its participation in the war, Washington clearly wants to avoid a clash between the coalition forces it leads and those allied with the Assad regime

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

War management

The disagreement we hear about is limited to the responsibility of managing military operations. Everyone agrees on one enemy in Syria: ISIS. Russia’s massive military presence on the ground supports regime and Iranian forces in their battles against the Syrian opposition, which still surprises everyone with its ability to resist.

Assad, Iran and Russia have failed to achieve their goal despite besieging the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in many areas and cutting its supplies. Until today, the tripartite aggression has failed to seize Aleppo, which it had promised to do.

The Americans’ shelling of Assad’s forces may push Moscow to coordinate with them to avoid fatal mistakes. Alternatively, Russia may use it as an excuse to limit the US military presence in Syrian airspace, as Moscow has always considered it a violation of Syrian sovereignty.

There is not much time left for the administration of US President Barack Obama to come up with new ideas for a political solution on the basis of recent negotiations between Moscow and Washington.

The US shelling will not change the superpowers’ management of the war. What was said about a “secret agreement” between them seems nothing more than discussions that have not achieved anything on the ground.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Sept. 19, 2016.
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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.