US-Syria Relations

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  • President Obama’s Policy on Syria

    President Obama’s Policy on Syria

    This is the right time to raise a fundamental question about Obama’s policy towards Syria: Is there a coherent, consistent policy, based on a reasonably accurate assessment of the ground realities in Syria? The answer is a definite no.

    November 18, 2014

    Interventionism and Human Security

    The conflict in Syria is inexorably turning into a quagmire as more entities get dragged into the sludge. From a hands-off policy to one of humanitarian support, the West has progressed to arming rebels, while Russia has shown that it is determined not to let down its ally by continuing arms shipments to the Assad regime.

    January 2014

    Mohit Joshi Asked: Why Russia is so supportive and America so opposed to President Assad of Syria?

    Gulshan Dietl replies: Russia has maintained friendly relations with Syria for decades that go back to President Bashar al-Assad’s father Hafez al-Assad and the Soviet Union. Since the Soviet time, the country has maintained its Black Sea Fleet in the Syrian port of Tartous, which has been its only naval base in the Mediterranean. Syria has agreed to host a permanent base for the Russian nuclear-armed warships, and the Russians are dredging the port to accommodate larger naval vessels. Russia sells substantial amount of weapons to Syria and has stakes in the infrastructure, energy and tourism sectors of the Syrian economy.

    The US, on the other hand, has put Syria on its list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1979. The Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union contributed to the hostile US perceptions of Syria. The Syrian military presence in Lebanon and Syrian support to the radical/terrorist Palestinian groups added to the estrangement between the two countries. According to the revelations by the Wikileaks, the US has been giving financial support to the anti-Assad rebels since 2010. In August 2011, after the uprising began in Syria, President Barack Obama called on Assad to step down.

    The diametrically opposite Russian-American policies in Syria have a wider context. In the West Asian region, Syria, Iran, Hizbollah organisation in Lebanon, the Palestinian resistance groups of Hamas and Islamic Jihad constitute an anti-Israel, anti-US front. Removing Assad and replacing him by an amenable successor would have served to diminish this front; and more particularly, the Iranian influence in the region.

    As the things stand today, the US and Russia have been coordinating their policies on Syria. Among the anti-Assad rebels, the extreme al-Qaeda affiliated groups are the most powerful and may emerge as the post-Assad regime. The US and Russia are equally and genuinely concerned about this possibility.

    Debating the Doctrine of Military Intervention

    The emerging doctrine of intervention is built around the ability of the international community, mainly the US-led western alliance, to impose its collective will in order to restore a deteriorating situation or to prevent a nascent conflict from burgeoning into full blown war with wider ramifications.

    September 13, 2013

    How has the West responded to ‘gassing’ in West Asia?

    It is not so much because of the use of chemical weapons that will unleash US fire-power, but the fact that the Assad regime might be winning the civil war in conjunction with its Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

    September 04, 2013

    Syria and WMD: Deepening Uncertainty

    Even as the uncertainty over the alleged use of chemical weapons use in Syria deepens, the cautious US response to the situation has been conditioned by the lack of viable military options as well as its Iraq war experience.

    June 03, 2013

    Patriots in Turkey

    The Patriot deployments signify Turkey’s attempt to secure itself and its allies against touted missile threats from the two countries with which it shares borders to the east – Syria and Iran.

    January 24, 2013

    Syrian Turmoil: A Test for the US Position

    The absence of a credible secular substitute for Assad, a divided opposition, and deadlock in the Security Council, are all acting as stumbling blocks for the US wish to unseat Assad from power.

    May 23, 2012