US retreat in Syria: Russia plays the decisive shot
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2016-02-17 17:09:49

US retreat in Syria: Russia plays the decisive shot





US President Barack Obama urged Russia on Sunday to stop bombing “moderate” rebels in Syria in support of its ally Bashar al-Assad, a campaign seen in the West as a major obstacle to latest efforts to end the war. Major powers agreed on Friday to a limited cessation of hostilities in Syria but the deal does not take effect until the end of this week and was not signed by any warring parties — the Damascus government and numerous rebel factions fighting it. Russian bombing raids directed at rebel groups are meanwhile helping the Syrian army to achieve what could be its biggest victory of the war in the battle for Aleppo, the country’s largest city and commercial centre before the conflict. The recent deal between both the countries signifies the stature of Russia as the unquestioned dominant force shaping the future direction of the conflict ever since it formally came to Bashar al-Assad’s aid militarily last September. Meanwhile, the impact of Russian intervention manifested itself even more explicitly as Syrian forces, bolstered by Russian air support, are rapidly gaining ground in the rebel stronghold of Aleppo, the northern city near the Turkish-Syrian border that had been one of the biggest commercial centres of Syria pre-civil war. Since the war began, Aleppo had been a base of al-Nusra, an affiliate of al Qaeda, and other Islamist rebel groups (including some supposedly “moderate” groups). But now the Syrian regime has almost succeeded in running out the rebels and has set its sights on closing off the Turkish border, thereby cutting off a major supply route for the rebel forces and achieving a decisive victory. An important ally of the Russians, and even of the US, in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria have been the Kurdish militias, who had been the most potent (and perhaps only) fighters against the IS before the arrival of Russia. As such, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) also benefited from Russian air support in taking over an airbase in Menagh from Islamist rebels. Due to these developments, Turkey, which has played a leading role in intensifying the conflict to achieve its own regional ambitions, is feeling threatened. Turkey, fearing that the YPG is virtually an extension of its Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and dreading the possible creation of an autonomous Kurdish region near the Turkish-Syrian border, has begun shelling at YPG posts inside Syria and demands that they abandon the regions they have occupied. Turkey is not the only Middle Eastern power being reactionary and impetuous in response to recent events. Saudi Arabia has sent fighter jets to Turkey’s Incirlik military base as the two allies threaten to launch a ground invasion of Syria. Though the rhetoric emanating from both countries couches this move in anti-IS terms, a clear-eyed analysis reveals that this is a reaction to the reducing effectiveness of their proxies in Syria as well as the growing disinterest of the US to oust al-Assad and take on the Russians. In order to pre-empt this excuse, Syrian and Russian forces have put Raqqa, the ‘capital’ of IS, in their crosshairs. The actions of Saudi Arabia and Turkey threaten to stall the march towards peace in Syria by inviting more chaos. For many years, the duo was supported in their stances by the US, and Syria was allowed to turn into a messy battleground of multiple proxies pursuing contradictory agendas. The intention of the trio was clear: oust the secular regime of al-Assad, which had been a thorn in their side. But now that it is clear that Russia is dominating proceedings, it can be sensed that the US is gradually backing out of providing unconditional support to “moderate rebel groups” and from its previously entrenched anti-Assad position in a willingness to see the conflict come to a close. This however does not sit well with Syria’s neighbours, whose designs to dictate the politics of Syria have been transparent, and their fur at the US’s perceived lack of vigour is palpable. Nonetheless, the threat of invasion is in all probability a bluff as even Saudi Arabia must realise the quagmire it will get stuck in if its ground troops enter Syria. However, it is very possible that Turkey and Saudi Arabia will continue to be provocative with Russia in order to pull a retreating US back into the mess. The US must rein in its allies, and accept that the costly gambit to enforce a regime change in Syria has been a devastating failure.

Categories:   World ، Islamic News ،
Tags:   US ، Syria ، Russia ، Turkey ، Assad ،
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