Will a few missile attacks change the geopolitical equation in Syria?
Color me skeptical.
Atrocities are taking place every day in Syria. Even a gas attack that kills 40 people, while shocking, repulsive and emotionally stirring, is not the root of the problem. Bombing runs by the U.S. are unlikely to deter more of the same. If there is an ultimate objective for the U.S. in Syria, I don’t understand it – and I don’t believe the American people do.
Is it regime change, again? How has that goal worked out for the national security interests of the U.S. in the past? If it is, who will step in to fill the vacuum of power there? Will it be someone who opposes Iran’s dominance in the region? Will it be someone who will stop Turkish military incursions into the country? Will it be someone who will protect the Kurdish and Christian populations? Will it be someone who stands up to Russia’s military involvement?
What is the real problem in Syria? What continues to drive people into refugee status? How can the killing fields and ethnic cleansing be stopped?
I’m not sure I know the answer. But Russia, Iran and Turkey – a new axis of evil – are firmly entrenched in Syria. Bashar Assad, the titular leader of Syria, is merely a pawn of all three.
If the U.S. does not have a plan for Syria, Russia, Iran and Turkey surely do.
A good place to start strategizing on a Syria response is to examine what its interests and objectives are.
- Turkey and Iran share a common, unquenchable hatred of neighboring Israel. They see Syria as their forward operational military base for future attack on the Jewish state, one that will rally the entire Islamic world.
- Turkey and Iran are also united against the Kurds, a people who want independence and a means to protect themselves from the suicidal, apocalyptic future course of Iran, Turkey and various terrorist groups, including many Sunni Arabs.
- Turkey and Iran are united on short-term objectives that are focused on creating more chaos, death and destruction of people, opposition groups and ethnic and religious groups.
- While both of these nations are cooperating now, they do not necessarily share long-term objectives. Turkey sees itself as the center of the Islamic world. Iran sees itself as such. Any strategy in Syria must focus on those long-term divisions.
- Then there is Russia, the wild card, which probably has concerns about fomenting a future major war in which the Islamic world unites for what it believes will be its goal of the destruction of Israel.
In other words, any strategy in the region should focus on breaking up this axis of evil, which is not as united as it might appear. This may be effectuated more successfully through diplomacy and exposure than with military campaigns by the U.S. and other Western nations.
Naturally, we would like to stop the killing, but can we do that through aerial bombardment? I don’t think so.
In fact, the latest bombing probably served to hold this shaky coalition, this axis of evil, together. And with China generally supportive of Russia, Iran and Turkey, it’s a coalition that must be attacked through sanctions, through strategic diplomacy, through careful planning that does not result in a world war.
This conflict could easily spin out of control with so many nations simply reacting and escalating violence rather than thinking through the competing interests and strategizing the best possible outcome.
Does America have any friends in the Middle East?
Yes, it does. And we need to help them defend themselves to the greatest extent possible.
I believe those friends include Israel, the Kurds, the Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities that are all caught in the crossfire of this conflict. We should never forget them.
No one, including the axis-of-evil coalition, wants to see this conflict spiral out of control, certainly not at this moment.