This is the idea the Obama administration is guided by, letting Russia to get involved into the Syrian crisis deeper and deeper.
Secretary of State John Kerry says that the U.S. no longer demands Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down as soon as possible, saying that the timing of his departure is ‘negotiable’.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin orders to unleash chaos in Syria by pushing a measure through the upper house of the Russian parliament on Wednesday, approving the use of Russian military forces abroad.
The vote on using Russian armed forces in foreign countries came after a request by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for military assistance in fighting ISIS, which looks like a formal preparation for a full-scale intervention from Russia.
Russia’s claims that its military operation in Syria will be limited to the use of Air Forces sounds rather doubtful, since warplanes will be flying not from Russia, but from Moscow’s own airbase in Syria.
And the airbase has to be protected by a large number of Russian troops and military equipment. At the sites where Moscow plans to officially deploy 2,000 or 3,000 troops, it will be able to deploy 15,000 Russian troops in case of emergency.
And the thing is: nobody is going to waste their time counting Russian troops in Syria, just like it was in the case with Russia’s occupation of Crimea in March 2014.
U.S. officially passes Syria on to Russia
Putin’s ‘surprise’ bombing operation in Syria right after his UN speech on Monday blew the Obama administration’s mind, leaving it with no options on how to respond to such actions from Moscow.
In his interview with CNN, John Kerry openly stated that by supporting the Assad regime, the Russians will most likely turn all Sunni Islamists in the Middle East against themselves.
And if some of them still had doubts about the Kremlin after all these years of supplying weapons to the Syrian government, Russia’s yesterday decision to count all Muslim oppositionists as ‘ISIS terrorists’ will most likely make the Sunni Islamists change their mind.
Kerry also added that the inevitable failure of Russia’s force diplomacy in Syria will enable Washington to push on Moscow and persuade it that there is no end to the Syrian crisis without getting Sunnis involved and removing the Assad regime from power.
Saudi Arabia threatens military operation
And Sunnis have already started waking up to the sound of Russia’s bombings in Syria. Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir said that the Assad regime has only two options: to step down on his own or expect a military operation to overthrow him.
And even 15,000 Russian troops will not stop the Saudis from launching such a military operation in Syria, especially considering the fact that Arab countries of the Persian Gulf now have air-defense systems of all manufacturers purchased during years of high oil prices.
Thus, instead of trying to persuade Putin to comply with international law and spreading their interests and desires across the world, the U.S. give Russia the opportunity to have a taste of what it’s like to be involved in a deadly civil and religious war in the Middle East.
The Saudis and other Arab states eager to remove Assad from power are most likely going to provide Syrian opposition with air-defense systems to bring down a number of Russian aircraft. And Saudi Arabia, which has not been exactly friendly with the U.S. lately, will have to cooperate with Washington to restock its air-defense systems.
Putin, meanwhile, gets his own Afghanistan in Syria – a military operation in an Arab country against radical Muslims, who do not care about war codes and rules, and military equipment and weapons of whom are constantly re-supplied by neighboring states.
Cold War with Russia is inevitable
However, the recent developments in Syria might also lead to an all-out Cold War between Washington and Moscow, according to the blog article written by assistant professors at National Research University, Andrej Krickovic and Yuval Weber.
The main concern of officials urging Washington and Moscow to negotiate in order to prevent further escalation is that while the current relationship is tense because of a number of serious differences, a possible “openly hostile relationship” is even worse, according to the authors.
Those officials argue that there is a high possibility of a new Cold War between the U.S. and Russia without resolving some of the worst tensions with the help of an updated European security framework, the article noted.
However, Krickovic and Weber also noted that the rivalry in such a Cold War would not be as “encompassing” as before, but it would halt cooperation on essential issues outside of Europe like Syria, ISIS and Iran. But according to the article, officials call for a “mutually acceptable framework” in order to avoid future conflicts in other post-Soviet states, hinting at the Baltic states.
At the same time, the authors of the article express their skepticism toward any bargain between the two camps that would allow to prevent a new Cold War from erupting.
“As things stand now, neither side can make the concessions necessary to make a grand bargain work. As a result, both now find themselves sliding towards a new Cold War that neither really wants,” Krickovic and Weber wrote.
However, the authors hope that both sides will prove their fears wrong by finding the “courage” and “foresight” in order to resolve the tense relations, “but it is difficult to be optimistic given the current political climate, as talk in both capitals is dominated by the sort of Russia- and America-bashing, which prevents either side from developing an appreciation of the other’s security concerns.”