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Semi-Cold War in Syria

Oct, 2015

Vistar Business Monitor

Parallel to Russian airstrikes against opposition groups in Syria, Bashar al Assad’s Army has made considerable progress in recent days, being able to recapture some strategic areas from militants. Although Russians have been more flexible in dealing with the Western coalition, the US and its allies do not trust Mr. Putin enough to begin cooperation with Russian over Syria.

Russians are doing their best to make Middle Eastern countries understand Moscow is a reliable ally in the region, who is ready to send troops to defend friend countries, although Russia is seeking other objectives as well, including that it is after prestige and more importantly play with the United States over the oil price, Ukraine crisis and other strategic challenges.

According to footages that show the Russian Army’s operations in Syria, Russians seem to have considered their airstrikes as a military maneuver, using live ammunition. Some reports even suggest that the operations in Syria have been designed as if they are a drill to confront guerilla groups. Maybe Russians seek to get prepared for the uprising of militants in the crisis-hidden Chechnya.

Reports say ISIS has assigned each of its groups to take control of any occupied region in Syria. Among the ISIS group are militants from Chechnya, too. Undoubtedly, Mr. Putin is partly concerned about a return of the Chechens loyal to ISIS, who are estimated to be thousands. If they return to their home country, tensions may escalate again between them and their government backed by Moscow.

Anyway, the coalition of Iran, Russia, Iraq, and Assad has an upper hand in the conflicts. On the other side, Obama’s deadly doubts have given a signal that the US government has not taken a certain Syria policy. Last week, the US announced after months that it is preparing to give $500 million in assistance to provide opposition groups in Syria with armament, since only three people has been left out of the 100 people trained by the CIA to be sent to fight the Syrian government. The rest have been either captured by extremist groups or joined them or escaped form the war scene.

There is no doubt that the Syria case is a weak point of Obama’s foreign policy, a weakness that has been in favor of Iran and Russia.

However, it is now obvious that Russia’s operations do not solely seek to keep Assad in power, as Russian authorities have already announced that if their requests are respected regarding the future of Syria they would agree with the Western coalition in the long run.

Last week Mr. Putin said that the US and European countries should understand that the cold war has long been finished. This is unlikely that Mr. Putin truly believes in his remarks, since he has taken similar approaches more recently based on the patterns used during the cold war era. So, it is unlikely that he can convince the West that he is sincere. Moscow’s intervention in Syria seems to be a start of a semi-cold war era, though such a war was near to be faded out after the collapse of the former Soviet Union.


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