Russia Unwilling to Allow Escalation of Tension in Syria

Several months passed since the U.S. formed a military coalition to fight the Islamic State (ISIS). However, the results have been rather insignificant. If anything the level of tension in Syria soars. By its stance of refusing to negotiate with Al Assad, the US cannot be absolved of bearing responsibility for this escalation. To the contrary, Russia intends to prevent the degradation of the political and military situation in this key Middle East country.

Moscow still considers the different possibilities of its joining the international coalition against militants of the ISIS, but it has not decided on its participation in a military operation yet. For the time being Russia has been more active on the diplomatic front, incessantly holding consultations with the Syrian government as well as other concerned governments of countries in the region. The Russian government recently hosted Adel al-Jubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia. Moreover, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the Saudi King is expected in Moscow within October. Considering that the Syrian government is the only credible force fighting jihadists, Russia continues to support Damascus, supplying equipment and weapons, as well as assisting in the training of Syrian soldiers.

It is becoming obvious that Moscow stands firm on its principled position. Such a position envisages that Syrians themselves must determine the political future of their country, and that Bashar Al Assad is the legitimate President. Let us ponder for a moment. What will be the immediate result of Assad’s forced removal from power in Damascus? Which forces will fill in the power vacuum? Negative developments of this summer show that odds are that, following Assad’s departure, Syria will be sadly dismembered, while the best part of the country will inevitably fall under ISIS iron rule.

Washington seems to be stoking tensions. Recently, the Obama administration has shown increasing readiness in using the US Air Force – or the Turkish Air Force for that matter – in an effort to impose a no-fly zone in Northern Syria. Such action may lead to exacerbation of the situation. By making the overthrow of Assad its primary task the US risks an uncontrollable escalation of the Syrian conflict.

On the other hand, Russia is taking additional measures in order to forestall the out-break of armed conflict in Syria with the participation of foreign troops. The US government sought to ban the overfly of Russian planes through Bulgarian and Greek national airspace. But if Athens had the courage to say “no” to the US whim, Sofia, succumbed to US pressure. Bulgaria, now demands the landing of Russian planes loaded with humanitarian aid bound for Syria in Sofia for inspection. Apparently, Washington manipulates weak Sofia into stopping Russia’s help to the Syrians. Moscow answers back by opening another air corridor through Iran and Iraq.

This development shows Russia’s determination to prevent the Syrian armed conflict’s escalation. Western press abounds in reports on hundreds of Western jihadist fighters that made it to Syria through Turkey hell bound to overthrow Assad. Moscow has showed firmness, in abiding by the framework of international law. The UN has clearly stated its intention not to allow unilateral US military action aimed at the forced removal of the legitimate government in Damascus.

In contrast to Washington, Moscow exhibits moderation and reason. The US foments contradictions between Iran and the Persian Gulf countries, resulting in the continuation of the war in Syria. Moreover, it transpires that the Obama administration put forward a request to Egypt to return Muslim Brothers in power structures. However, much depends not on the US and Turkey, but on the positions taken by the Arab countries. All of them, including Egypt, have publicly declared their commitment to a political solution in Syria. Cairo has an open line consulting with Moscow on coordination of political decisions which will influence the position of the whole Arab world.