India’s World – Russia’s gambit in Syria
Recently, Russia’s parliament approved the launching of air strikes in Syria. There is also an allegation that Russian air strikes are not just aimed at ISIS militants, but also at those opposed to the regime of president Bashar al Assad. However, Russian foreign minister has clarified that the air strikes were against all terrorists in Syria, but not against the civilians. The ongoing war in the Middle East is expected to increase the chaos and disorder in the region. It may also end the existing state system and set in motion a larger global crisis. Russia has entered into a military alliance with Syria, Iraq, Iran and Hezbollah. There is an allegation that this effort involves military operations not just against ISIL, but also against the Free Syrian Army and many other groups.
It is also being said that Russia’s military intervention in Syria has further complicated the existing problem. Russian air support will help strengthen the Assad regime, at least in the short run. It may also prolong the war and increase the suffering of civilians. However, it is also true that Russian move brings an opportunity, which the United States and its allies should seize, to shift the focus of international concern about Syria away from the military extinction of Isis towards the protection of those civilians by whatever arrangements that can be achieved. It is also being said that this intervention may bring military advantage to one contender or another. Some critics see a parallel between Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and its new push into Syria.
Russia’s full-scale use of military force in Syria has heightened tensions between Russia and the US, and the standoff is becoming increasingly entrenched. Russia has started expanding its military operations against armed antigovernment forces opposed to the administration of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russia has concentrated its airstrikes in western Syria near Tartus, home to Russia’s only naval port in the Middle East and a stronghold of the Assad government. Russia claims the objective of its attacks is to wipe out the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist group. However, it is also being said that this move aims to support the weakened Assad government and protect Russia’s own national interests. It is a self-serving action. Turkey’s proposals for a no-fly zone over the territories in northern Syria, currently controlled by moderate Syrian opposition groups, has also lost all relevance due to these areas coming under continual attacks from Russian airstrikes.
The United States and its allies in Syria are in need of some external help and cooperating with Russia on finding a combination of military and diplomatic measures that could curb the Islamic State would give civilians some respite from the violence. This should be the ultimate priority for both the West and Russia.