Thursday, October 8, 2015

Russians are back in Middle East

Russian’s are the latest ones to jump in to the great Syrian battlefield which is already heavily populated by foreign fighters, foreign money and foreign arms. One thing is sure about this civil war, whichever side wins, Syria will definitely get a dark age lasting at least for a decade. Her infrastructure housing, factories, roads, airports etc. are already in shambles; her intelligentsia is fleeing the country.

Timing is very much crucial here.

Assad is currently facing major reversals in battle; Iran is back in the game with money in hand (after US and allies removed sanctions in selling oil). After the misfortunes faced by militia allegedly backed by Iran in Yemen, they need to open another front against Saudi led alliance; Pushed into a corner in Ukraine and significant fall in oil prices, Russians badly need to open another channel to divert attention and to remain in great Middle East game. For Russia, Syria is not mere an alley but also a place where they hold a good strategic foothold. For Assad this civil war is a matter of life and death.

On the other side, hands of Western powers are tied after the world saw the brutality and success of Islamic State (IS). Britain and France might not take the risk of creating another Libya, where no one is in control. Even though Turkey backs the so called moderate rebels, they can’t digest the fact that fall of current Syrian dispensation headed by Assad will also create a free Kurd country which extends from Iraq to Turkey’s borders. Although Saudi and other GCC countries spent billions on shopping defence gears, they don’t have the will to engage in a ground offensive. Last but not the least, pride of the pack – US – is going to face a presidential election. After watching thousands of dead bodies flying back home from the battle fields of Afghan and Iraq, US citizens are not in any mood to start another bloody battle.

So Russia’s timing is excellent. One thing to see is, whether it will make them or an alliance with Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq will pull Putin to the quick sand from where he won’t be able to get out gracefully.

Sajeev.

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