Russia Wants a Piece of the Syrian Civil War
Moscow bolsters Damascus
In true Soviet tradition, Russia supports socialist dictatorships in North Africa and Southwest Asia. Though Russian-allied governments in Iraq and Libya have collapsed in the last two decades, Syria survives — and remains one of Moscow’s most important friends in a region where many people now view Russia as an enemy of Islam.
Moscow and Damascus have grown closer as Syria comes under attack on multiple fronts. Much to the chagrin of the United States and its allies.
“Over the last few months a series of diplomatic meetings from Moscow to Washington raised hopes for a serious new push toward a political solution to the vicious war in Syria that has killed more than 250,000 people and forced thousands more to flee to Europe,” The New York Times editorial board wrote. “That optimistic idea has been put in doubt by Russia’s recent moves to significantly bolster military support for Syria’s ruthless dictator, Bashar Al Assad, whose hold on his country is weakening.”
The Syrian opposition has challenged the Syrian government in Daraa and Idlib Governorates while Islamic State has done the same in Homs Governorate while also putting pressure on air bases in Aleppo and Deir Ezzor Governorates.
Russia has responded by resupplying the Syrian government with weaponry, Reuters reported. The U.S. government seems to fear that Russia’s intervention could interfere with America’s own Operation Inherent Resolve targeting Islamic State. More broadly, Americans are skeptical of Moscow’s intentions.
“Russian officials add to the tensions and growing suspicions when they play down or lie about what they are really up to, as they did in Ukraine,” the Times wrote. “In the case of Syria, they initially said the shipments carried only humanitarian aid; later, they admitted deploying military advisers and hardware, but insisted it was all part of a longstanding military agreement with the Assad government.”