Power Politics and Stakes of US and Russia in Syria

Conflict between the United States and Russia has heightened since the recent US-led missile strikes on military targets and research facilities in Syria. On April 14, 2018, US-led three early morning air strikes on a scientific research center in Syria, where weapons were produced, and two chemical weapon facilities one of which was used for […]

Conflict between the United States and Russia has heightened since the recent US-led missile strikes on military targets and research facilities in Syria. On April 14, 2018, US-led three early morning air strikes on a scientific research center in Syria, where weapons were produced, and two chemical weapon facilities one of which was used for the making of sarin and second was the military command post. It is well known that President Bashar al Assad’s regime in Syria has constantly been backed by Russia since the ascension of mayhem in 2011.  The United States of America has been opposing the Assad’s government by arming the insurgents who want to topple Assad’s administration as they perceive it, the best resolution for ongoing chaos in Syria.

On one hand, a heated war of words between Russia and UK over espionage scandal of Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom has led the expulsion of around twenty-three Russian diplomats from the UK. In return, Russia responded aggressively by adopting the same policy and dismissed a same number of envoys. France also joined hands with the UK in solidarity and sacked four of Russian envoys. On the other hand, the argument is that these cooperative and collaborative attacks on Syrian chemical research center could be an apparent message to Russia that if Vladimir Putin ever attempted to thwart their national interests, he would get a united befitting response.

As far as American narrative is concerned, apparently the US may have stroke down the chemical research center but if we look at the contemporary tussle going on between both the superpowers with respect to government in Syria. It can be envisaged that the US, as being the superpower of world conveyed its hegemonic stance. According to ‘Mearsheimer’, a political scientist at the University of Chicago believes that there are no oil reserves or oil flow in Syria so, the United States has neither any aspirations to dominate the Gulf region nor does it have any vital interests at stake. Have those airstrikes also deterred North Korea as Kim Jong-un administration also decided to suspend their Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile launches and further nuclear tests?

The conflict in Syria has spiraled into a proxy war with a perplexed array of players and is a byproduct of two major powers that one cannot deny. The result of this byproduct also enabled ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) to gain a strong foothold. The Syrian ground seems as if it is a game board with multiple squares, where one move in a square impacts national interests of others. Firstly, Russia steered up its armed forces in the central-western region between Damascus and Aleppo. Following the suit, Turkey beefed up its forces on Syrian-Turkish border. At last, United States surprised its adversaries by jumping into hostile territory. Thus, the current race in Syria between US and Russia appears to be a competition. It is difficult to hold out much expectation that dialogues between Russia and US will succeed until or unless both states move out from Syria by dropping out their demands. These tensions would not serve anyone’s interests; not those of America, Syria or Russia. However, in the end, Syrian nationals are the one; who are suffering and being grinded between the great game of power since the conflict has arisen.

ANOSH SAMUEL (MSc International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad) is a RESEARCH ANALYST in a private company

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