The United States stands increasingly isolated as the international community reestablishes and strengthens relations with Damascus. Russia, China, and Iran are converging in their efforts to reassert the Syrian governments capacity to retake territory.
The war in Syria has attracted fighters from over 80 countries. Foreign governments have spared no expense in their fight for supremacy over the land, resources, and the historical symbolism that occupying Syria represents. To take Damascus is to take the capital of the beating heart of the Arab World, the capital of the Islamic Ummayad Dynasty, and an ancient city on the trade routes from the Eastern world to the Western world across every era. In a war where 500,000 people have already died, the fight is escalating, rather than subsiding. Violent extremist groups cling desperately to their gains in Eastern Syria and Aleppo, while hoping their proxy patrons in the U.S. government and Arab monarchies will send new reinforcements through the South as Turkey’s internal troubles and Syrian Arab Army (SAA) gains disrupt logistics from Erdogan’s border.
The allies of the extremists are scrambling, either reassessing their frozen relations with the government in Damascus (Tunisia restored relations back in April), or preparing new methods to keep the war going and the rebels alive. Thousands of US-backed rebels are preparing to invade Syria from Jordan. Though the allies of Islamist may be willing to continue an ideological struggle in the media with their continued calls to prioritize the overthrow of President Assad’s government over fighting ISIS, a concert of great international and regional powers are converging on an alternative solution. A multilateral alliance that aims to stabilize the region by defeating the terrorists and restoring the territorial integrity of the sovereign Syrian State is becoming a structural reality of international politics. The United States stands isolated over the conflict due to its policy of regime change, while Russia, China, and Iran, in cooperation with much of the world, converge towards a military settlement with terrorists and a political settlement that affords amnesty to those rebels who are willing to rejoin the Syrian community.
The Russian Air Force (RAF) is back in play in a major way in Northern Syria. Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and Su-34 tactical bombers are taking off on missions to relentlessly bomb terrorist enclaves in cooperation with SAA offenses. The RAF bombers are based in Western Iran. The Hamedan airbase in Western Iran has cooperated with Russian armed forces in the past, but the deployment of strategic bombers to fly missions against ISIS and Al Qaeda is a new development.
The raids “eliminated” five major arms depots, used to supply ISIS militants near the city of Aleppo, as well as three militant command points and training camps in the cities of Serakab, Al-Bab, Aleppo and Deir Ezzor.
The rebels in Eastern Aleppo were recently able to reopen a crossing in the Ramouseh District after Castillo highway was cut off and the sector totally besieged. The Russian response is a signal that the rebels will not be allowed to occupy Aleppo, and that Russia still considers the city a major theater of combat operations. The SAA position in Latakia, where the Russian naval base is located, are now more secure, and the US initiatives to wrangle rebels to a peace conference have failed, giving the Russians room to push for a military settlement aimed at decimating the terrorist positions.
The Russians and Iranians have not been alone in calling for a peace settlement that restores Syria’s territorial integrity, defeats terrorism, and prevents proxy powers from funding armed militias–China has spoken out against lethal support for a rebellion in sovereign territory. At the United Nations and in public statements, the Chinese have made clear their position against regime change. Now they are taking a more active role in settling the conflict, in concert with Russia and Iran, and contrary to the outcome sought by the United States. The Chinese government has declared that their military will provide training and assistance to the Syrian Arab Republic. “The latest move is another step taken by Beijing to strengthen engagement in the Middle East”, written in SCMP.
With Russia on the offensive from airbases in Iran, and China ramping up its effort to cooperate with the Syrians to defeat radical Islamic terrorism, the fragility of the U.S. position in Syria is becoming clear. Major powers will converge to halt the infestation that is being imported into Syria and then exported around the world. The threat of terrorism at home and abroad has become too great for a proxy war, but the current administration and its possible successor, the Clinton administration, have committed too much political capital and diplomatic resources to overthrowing the Syrian government to reconsider. If the United States would be willing to join this concert of powers seeking to restore stability to Syria, the Middle East, and the world, the rebels would quickly unravel. Without the United States, the rebels will still unravel in the face of this strategic convergence in Syria, but more slowly, with much greater bloodshed, and a greater likelihood that the terrorists will reemerge somewhere else. If the United States wants to continue to be seen as a great power capable of organizing a peace and not just a war, its government must reconsider the policy of regime change in Syria.