30 Sep '15     

The Success of Russia and Iran in Syria

Russia beings air strikes in Syria. The Russian defence ministry says their air force has targeted IS military equipment, communication facilities, arms depots, ammunition and fuel supplies. BBC News reports that "Syrian opposition activists" describe Russian warplanes as having "hit towns including Zafaraneh, Rastan ands Talbiseh, resulting in the deaths of 36 people, a number of them children."

The US announces that it was informed an hour before the strikes began.

There has been more talk of diplomacy to end the four-year Syrian war. Wars, including civil wars, usually end with one side dominating the other side militarily – the Thirty Years War (1618-48) one of the exceptions. We can expect more talk between Secretary of State Kerry and the Russians, but what leverage might the Obama administration be willing to apply to end to the war as it sees fit? It can bomb IS positions as the Russians are now doing? As things now stand, the war will end as Russia, Iran and Assad see fit.

Previous talks, including those led by Kofi Annan in agreement with the UN, were exercises in fantasy. Assad was not going to surrender any power that was not taken from him by force.

Syria's non-extremist opposition taking up arms to protect themselves and their communities has not worked given the lack of support or timidity (for whatever reason) of US, Western European and anti-Assad governments in the region. Iran and Russia have been more successful. Assad viewed as a legitimate power has given them advantage. Assad's portrayal of the conflict as a war against terrorism prevails. His state terrorism accounts for nothing in Iranians and Russian propaganda.

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