Things seem to be moving towards a showdown between Washington and Moscow on Syrian soil, after the US warning that it will take its own measures in Syria if the UN Security Council does nothing about the Russian-Iranian joint predation in Eastern Ghouta.
War of words
Russia responded immediately to this US statement. The country’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov cautioned that any US military assault would have “drastic” repercussions. Again, Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov confirmed that Russian military would respond to any US attack on Syria and would take down any rockets and platforms implicated in such an attack. He stated that his country had “documented intel” about a possible US attack.
Russian military chief says his country has “documented intelligence” about possible US plan of attackMashari Althaydi
Let’s put this in sync with the “diplomatic war” launched by Britain (Washington's trusted ally), which expelled all Russian diplomats. In addition, the government and royal family boycotted the World Cup and warned British citizens of the dangers of traveling to Russia. London also froze Russian assets in Britain, after Russian spy Sergei Skripal was found poisoned along with his daughter in Salisbury, south of London. Russian Foreign Ministry responded by saying: “Britain has chosen confrontation ... Our response will not be long after.”
In a devious tone, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech against the Russian foreign minister. She said: “Theresa, Lavrov is a Russian minister and not a British minister; I realize that you wish otherwise but your minister is Boris Johnson.”
A strange, new alliance
Today, Russia is building a strange alliance against the United States and the West – consequently against many Arabs, Iran's enemies — and Syria is its theater. This alliance consists of Iran and its networks led by the Lebanese Hezbollah. Now here is the surprise, “Erdogan’s Turkey” is enraged by “Trump’s America” for many reasons such as US support for the Kurds of Syria and the creation of US bases near east Euphrates to cut off the road to Iran’s geographical contiguity with the waters of the Mediterranean.
At a recent press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “There are organizations like Al-Nusra that we have to fight with Russia in Syria,” noting “positive” developments on Syrian soil. He explicitly declared that Turkey “supports the unity of the Syrian territory with Russia and Iran!” Lavrov responded by saying that his government would speed up delivering the S-400 surface-to-air missiles to Turkey.
The Syrian map is in a state of dissolution today. The US is quite incensed while Russia is aiming to besiege US presence in Syria for its own sake and for the sake of its allies - whether temporary allies or “frienemies.”
What will be the end of this scene? Is it certain that a spark won’t be triggered like the assassination of the Archduke of Austria that kicked off the First World War? More importantly, before the storm begins, what about us?
This article is also available in Arabic.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy