Unless the U.S. counters the Russian threat in Syria with resolve and strength, “a greater war is inevitable,” according to an American analyst.
In her op-ed published in Citizen-Times, a U.S. political analyst Linda Chavez argues that the Obama administration’s hesitancy has led to Russia having 30 warplanes that launch airstrikes against U.S.-trained rebels in Syria.
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Chavez also noted that there soon may be Russian troops on the ground – the so-called ‘volunteers’ – like the ones Russia deployed in eastern Ukraine.
Along with the airstrikes, Russia is firing its most sophisticated cruise missiles from warships in the Caspian Sea a thousand miles away and targets not ISIS as it claims, but the U.S.-backed anti-Bashar al-Assad rebels in Syria.
The analyst also reminds that there have been reports from Turkey, a NATO member, about Russia starting to violate Turkish airspace.
“It would be bad enough if Russia’s intervention in Syria accomplished nothing more than propping up the murderous regime of Assad, which has killed more than a quarter-million Syrians and led to the exodus of 3 million refugees,” Chavez wrote and added that Russia’s true role in the conflict is far more “insidious.”
What Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to do instead – is wreak havoc in the Middle East by enhancing Iran’s power that is going to lead to future confrontations between Iran and its Sunni rivals, according to Chavez.
Besides, Russia is still a powerful nuclear state, which raises concerns of a possible nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, the author argues. Russia currently has 1,582 nuclear warheads deployed on 515 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and strategic bombers, according to the Arms Control Association.
Russia also owns 4,500 stockpiled warheads as well as 3,200 more warheads that await dismantlement under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the United States.
“Any guess whom these weapons are aimed at?” asks Chavez.
Russia’s interests in the Middle East threaten the U.S.
During the period of the Cold War, Washington and Moscow managed to avoid direct confrontation for the reason that such confrontations could have easily led to an all-out nuclear war with deadly consequences.
But today, the Obama administration’s failure to respond to Russia’s interference in the Middle East poses a strategic threat.
“Unless this threat is met by U.S. resolve and strength, a greater war is inevitable,” Chavez wrote.
The author also compared the Middle East to a ‘tinderbox’ “with explosions occurring throughout the region that could ignite a major conflagration.” Meanwhile, Israel, the U.S. major ally in the region, faces an “existential threat” if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, “which the Obama administration’s deal makes more likely than not,” according to Chavez.
The author noted that Iran equipped with nuclear weapons is a great threat to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf States.
The growing aggression of Russia also poses a “direct threat” to Europe, particularly the Baltic states, Chavez noted. With economic sanctions against Russia, the U.S. failed to fight Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, providing no lethal weapons nor ammunition against tanks and other Russia’s advanced weaponry.
“If we are unwilling to arm those who are fighting Russian expansion, we will see Russia gobble up more territory on its path to regain superpower status,” Chavez wrote.
Obama is not even trying to counter Russia
But U.S. President Barack Obama seems unwilling to counter Russia. Moreover, he has “greatly damaged the standing of the United States in the world,” the author noted.
And while there doesn’t seem enough time for the current administration to change its stance on the state of affairs, the tragedy is that Obama “shows no interest in even trying.”
The administration declared last Friday the ongoing retreat from Syria by announcing to have shut down the Pentagon’s program to train Syrian opposition rebels. U.S. analysts considered this program to be doomed to fail from the very beginning, since the Obama administration insisted that the U.S. was not doing it for the fight against the Assad regime.
“When we tried to get them [Syrian opposition rebels] to just focus on ISIL, the response we’d get back is, how can we focus on ISIL when every single day we’re having barrel bombs and attacks from the regime?” Obama said during his press conference on October 2.
As for Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, Obama responded by saying that Russia’s efforts were doomed to fail. However, 20 months later we see Mr. Putin still controlling the Crimean peninsula and a significant part of Ukraine’s territory in the east. Moreover, it seems like he has managed to reach a peace agreement.
Is U.S. vs Russia war really that ‘inevitable’?
Despite the shutting down of the Pentagon’s program, Obama is eager to boost the support for anti-Assad rebels that fight against ISIS as well as Kurdish and Sunni tribes.
Last Friday, the Pentagon announced that “equipment packages and weapons” will be provided “to a select group of vetted leaders and their units” in order to over time make a “concerted push into territory still controlled by ISIL.”
However, considering Obama’s refusal to provide aid to the U.S.-led alliance’s forces, who found themselves bombed by Russia’s airstrikes, we will most likely see the creation of the coalition proposed by Putin. The coalition envisioned by Putin would have the U.S. and all of its allies fighting alongside Russia against all anti-Assad forces in the Middle East.
Such a move will throw all U.S.-trained rebels into the arms of ISIS and thus make Putin one step closer to his ultimate goal: restoring Russia’s influence in the region at the expense of U.S. interests.
However, the U.S. does not have to engage in a war with Russia to keep its strategic interests in the Middle East intact and counter Putin’s plans in the region. All the Obama administration has to do is stop urging Putin to come to his senses, and start drawing red lines, which the Russian President will have to respect and not cross.