AMIDST THE MENACE OF ISIS, THE COLD WAR RESURFACES

Syria has been in the limelight for all wrong reasons lately. The political gambles observed in the country make fighting the barbaric Islamic State more and more difficult with two powerful nations (USA and Russia) constantly working towards opposite goals.
While the Obama-led US wants to overthrow Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, Russia considers the latter as an important ally and therefore supports Assad by all means. The reasons for their preferences are varied and strategic.
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is an opportunist and therefore using the current scenario in Syria to his advantage. The first and foremost reason for the interest of Russia in Assad’s regime is to protect its own personal interests. The Russian naval facility in Tartus, Syria, is an important strategic reason. Also, its airbase in Latakia is of utmost importance from the point of view of national security.
Long term disturbances that can be caused in Russia by Russian-speaking jihadi elements in Syria who harbour ill feelings for the Putin government is also considered a significant reason by experts on the study of the Syrian conflict.
Russia is also of the view that in order to fight the Islamic State, a stable political regime that understands the nuances is important and any disturbance caused by the violent overthrow of the current regime will prove disastrous. Russia is also aware of its international image of being a trustworthy and powerful ally of Syria. According to an official from the USA, Russia considers it better to fight Islamic terrorists hand-in-hand with a faithful Muslim friend so that it is not considered a foreign invader on the international and domestic platform.
On the other hand, the USA seems confused with its objectives of overthrowing Assad’s regime but at the same time also eliminate the Islamic state. It finds Assad’s regime repressive and opposes it due to two main reasons.
Assad’s opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq and his consequent support to Iraqi insurgent groups.
  • The assassination of former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri, and the consequent Syrian interference in Lebanon’s matters.
  • The USA has now refrained from getting deeply involved in the Syrian civil war post-2012 when Assad’s alleged threats of using chemical weapons emerged.  
According to Secretary of State, John Kerry, Russia’s rigorous and continuous support to Assad in terms of military facilities will not compel the latter to compromise with rebel forces thus escalating tensions. However, Russia stands opposed to this claim.
In the initial days of Assad’s regime, popularly known as Damascus Spring, there were wide-scale reforms in Syria’s political, economic and social life which brought stability in the country.
Thus, the overthrow of Assad’s regime cannot be a solution, because the menace of ISIS needs to be tackled through united efforts and for this to be possible, political stability in all the regions is a must.

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