Skip to content

On the Middle East – Tensions between Russia, Syria and Iran boil to the surface… but the alliance will remain.

May 14, 2020

Syrian army liberating swaths of Idlib Province from Turkish-supported Islamic mercenaries in northwest Syria

__________________________________________

Have been reading about this for several weeks now- signs of which have appeared here and there. Knowing my interest in the Middle East, friends have sent me  articles I would have otherwise missed. Is the Russian-Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah alliance – the “Axis of Resistance” falling apart? Will the tensions between Russia and Syria result in some kind of split?

Wishful thinking on the part of both Republicans and Democrats in Washington. Ain’t a gonna happen.

__________________________________________

Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees catcher and baseball philosopher once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over!”… “and even then, it ain’t over,”others have added.

So it is with U.S. meddling in Syria even though “the game” (U.S. efforts to overthrow the Assad government and partition Syria) is lost and the Assad government, with international aid from Iran, Russia and Hezbollah in Lebanon have won back large swaths of the country to the national embrace.

Well there is something afoot – tensions between allies Russia, Iran and Syria have boiled over and have become public. The Russian press – at high levels – has expressed frustrations with the Assad government in Syria’s unwillingness to negotiate a settlement that would give less than full sovereignty over its territory.

Have been reading about this for several weeks now- signs of which have appeared here and there. Knowing my interest in the Middle East, friends have sent me  articles I would have otherwise missed. Is the Russian-Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah alliance – the “Axis of Resistance” falling apart? Will the tensions between Russia and Syria result in some kind of split?

Wishful thinking on the part of both Republicans and Democrats in Washington. Ain’t a gonna happen.

As usual, M. K. Bhadrakumar explains the tensions between allies well – they have somewhat different agendas. For the Assad government it is to rid the country of mercenary extremist elements entirely and re-establish the national unity of Syria.

At the same time, the Assad government is unwilling to negotiate any political settlement that does not result in full sovereignty over its territory. Russia is growing increasingly worried and impatient to end the Syrian conflict while Washington, playing its usual insidious role has not given up on backing al Nusra, ISIS and like human detritus that it arms and finances either directly through C.I.A.-like channels or with the aid of regional flunkies – Turkey, Israel, the Saudis and the Emirates.

The Trump Administration, through the person of US Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey couldn’t be more pleased and continues to repeat Washington’s boring and unrealistic mantra – that Assad must go. It ain’t a gonna happen. For Russia it is to neutralize the mercenary extremist threat – that would tumble over into the “Stans”, Russia and China and to avoid getting stuck in an Afghanistan like quagmire in Syria. It is also a question of avoiding an open confrontation with either Turkey or Israel which Russia does not want, and improving relations with Europe (which sides with the U.S. on overthrowing Assad).

For the U.S.A. – even though they have lost their proxy war in Syria it is to continue to arm and finance the jihadist elements to prevent a major Syrian-Iranian-Russia shift in the regional balance of power… and to use Turkey and Israel as cat paws. Maybe Washington has lost on the battlefield in Syria – it has – but sore losers that they are, they want to make a total victory for Syria a price too high to pay and they keep, under new circumstances, meddling. Washington’s goal – since they have lost the war, is to see that Assad and Russia don’t win. Keeping up the pressure militarily through proxies not only gives the Trump Administration “plausible deniability” it also is an effort to create an Afghanistan-like quagmire for Russia, especially if Russia and Turkey come to blows – which would set off a whole new level of the conflict.

Still the headline of Bhadrakumar’s article, “Russia makes a botch of its Syrian Alliance” is poorly chosen. It overstates the tensions, or so it appears

Every alliance has its tensions and it would be naive to think that countries as diverse politically as Syria, Iran and Russia would be on the same page on their vision of how to proceed on Syria. And despite these very real frustrations, the three countries (along with Hezbollah in Lebanon) all need one another and the alliance will, in my view come to some kind of truce if not consensus on how to proceed. Stakes are too high, and too much is invested. Russia’s role in the Middle East is dependent upon its alliance with Assad.

The tensions that existed during the Vietnam War between Russia (then the USSR) and China come to mind. Both opposed U.S. intervention in Vietnam but had different goals. The USSR long wanted for its geo-political reasons – calming the nuclear arms race – for Vietnam to make concessions earlier on with Washington, while China, with Vietnam on its southern border – and despite strong tensions with Vietnam – wanted the U.S. out completely.

Ultimately it was the Vietnamese who decided the issue and did so at a moment of the apex of U.S. military power and global dominance. This is quite a different moment. Likewise, it will be the Syrian government’s position that will carry the day, Russian objections and U.S. plans to undermine Syria’s integrity and the geo-political big power machinations aside.

 

 

One Comment leave one →
  1. William Conklin permalink
    May 14, 2020 1:42 pm

    One would think that the Vietcong taught Uncle Sam a lesson, but he is suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s and other afflictions so Rob has a good point!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: