Hostility hots up in Syria
The situation in Syria is heating up, and suddenly it is clear that the endgame may not be as simple as previously thought. The dying proxy civil war seems to have suddenly transformed into a lively direct confrontation of regional powers. Turkey, Israel and the US, and of course Russia and Iran, in the past week were each involved in some incident or another: Turkey-Syria, Israel-Iran, US-Russia.
U.S. forces killed scores of Russian mercenaries in Syria in early February, in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former adversaries since the Cold War, with many Russian and Ukrainian war casualties being treated in St Petersburg and Moscow: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-13/u-s-strikes-said-to-kill-scores-of-russian-fighters-in-syria
Meanwhile, many on the ground believe the chaos in Syria may trigger war between Israel and Iran: https://www.ft.com/content/7c953a34-0f4a-11e8-940e-08320fc2a277
Furthermore, it is alleged that an emergency call took place between President Putin and Israel’s Prime Minster Netanyahu on Saturday 10 February to stop Israel from a much larger retaliation after a drone entered the Golan Heights: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/12/opinion/the-middle-easts-coming-war.html
It is too early to tell where this is heading, but clearly it is less likely that Syria will preserve itself as a single country. The US has carved out an area, meanwhile Turkey, the Kurds and many others seem to be trying to do so. It is also more likely that it will remain a flashpoint of dramatic belligerence between major powers. It certainly was a week that reminded President Putin of how treacherous the Levant is, a lesson not learned by other powers either.
Is this the last dash before negotiations, or has it been decided by the powers involved that the situation merits testing each other’s resolve?
Author: Barnaby Bartlett, Member of APQ Global Research Fellowship