West inaction costs them Syria

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After World War II the Western powers vowed never to enter in a conflict of such international scale again. Alas, the geopolitical dynamics in Syria may give them no choice but to do so.

Over the years Putin and Assad have formed an unbreakable bond based on a mutually beneficial cooperation that would see Russia’s sphere of influence in the Middle East getting back to what is once was in its Soviet days.

Today, escalating tension between Russian and Turkey has seen international players such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the NATO members step into the boxing ring as well, albeit regrettably.

We all know the western powers disapprove of Russia’s political approach to the Syrian war. But a dark post-Cold War history has the United States walking on eggshells when it comes to military intervention in the Middle East, and the EU member states cannot stop bickering long enough to come up with the necessary action plan.

With emergency Security Councils and failing ceasefires, the USA and European powers need to realise that there is legitimate cause for concern when it comes to Turkey’s territorial security and that we cannot tolerate the offensive led by the Russian-Syrian alliance

While the fighting parties agreed to lower their weapons so as to let humanitarian aid flow in, Russian forces are still conducting air strikes on the border to help the YPG (the Syrian Kurdish military group) drive back Turkish rebels.

The Russians have vowed to respond accordingly should an attack be conducted on Syrian soil as they continue to support Assad’s so-called legitimate regime.

Turkey fears that the Russian-backed YPG will attract its Kurdish minority and found and autonomous terrorist state on its border, and has called on its historical allies for support.

Yet while the US publicly condemn Assad’s regime, Obama remains hesitant since it considers the YPG to be an important player the fight against Islamic State in Lebanon. Hence the United States is against Syria, but not really.

To make things even more complicated, the US rekindled its relationship with Iran even though the latter has been backing the Russian-Syrian alliance since day one, a deal which makes US actions against them even more unlikely.

However, national political agendas like that of the USA may have to be set aside as Turkey calls on NATO’s duty to defend a member in the event of a threat to its national security, which has seemed increasingly likely with numerous bomb attacks in recent months occurring on its soil.

Although international allies such as France and Germany have publicly announced they would not agree to a war on Turkey’s making, the NATO Defence clause, if played correctly would have them force-handed into action.

Not to mention Turkey is the last wall standing in light of the recent immigration flows in Western Europe, flows that have become strategic bate in other political debates such as the US presidential Elections, the Brexit referendum, and possible Turkish EU membership.

Western powers should also remember that every ounce of strategic influence in the Middle East gained by Russia is another bargaining chip for Putin when discussing his actions in Ukraine and in Georgia.

Clearly Russia is always a step ahead in the Syrian geopolitical game of chess, and it’s time the west took that seriously.

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Marianne Gros is a final year Politics with International Relations Student, and Editor-In-Chief of bathimpact.

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