Russia in Syria

The recent increase in Russian presence in Syria highlights two important facts.  The first is that anyone who thought this civil war would be resolved through victory of one side over the other has been proven wrong again.  The second and much more important result of this increased Russian presence should be the realization by those advocating further US involvement in Syrian civil war that they are completely and utterly wrong.  Their mistake is that they tend to forget that the adversary also gets a vote.  A popular but naïve narrative has taken place in the discussion of the US policy towards Syria.  That is, if the US would only come in on the side of the Sunni Muslims then Assad would fall from power, producing an outcome acceptable to the US.

The Russian presence has no bearing on post-Assad discussion, so it will only be discussed briefly.  The imagined post-Assad Syria where the 25 percent of non-Sunni population would be treated equitably is a fairy tale.  One only needs to look at the nearby Sunni dominated states and the results are clear, there is no equal coexistence between different religious and ethnic groups.  The Sunnis are dominant and treat Shiites and other religious groups as second class citizens.  That such a peaceful coexistence would emerge in Syria post-uprising is a fantasy.  The presence of ISIL in Syria only makes this more likely.

The true lesson of Russian presence in Syria is that the US was right not to get involved deeper.  As Russian commitment shows, increased US involvement would have only increased Russian and Iranian involvement without changing the Syrian balance of forces dramatically.  As mentioned before, the adversary also gets a vote.  Therefore, those arguing for increased US involvement in the past and present are wrong.  Their advice would have only entangled the US deeper in the Syrian civil war, without achieving any viable strategic goals.  There is one way the US could have possibly imposed its will and removed Assad from power: that is to invade and occupy Syria.  This, as the former Secretary of Defense Mr. Gates so well said, means that anyone who proposes such course of action needs to have their head examined.

The proxy involvement on the side of anti-Assad rebels would have only provoked a counter reaction from the states supporting Assad without achieving our strategic objectives.  As the current increased Russian presence shows, they are not prepared to let Assad fall.  The result of their and Iranian involvement is a continued stalemate between Sunni rebel and Government side.  The only solution feasible at this time is not more US support for the Sunni groups, but rather a division of Syria into Sunni and non-Sunni states.  Same as Yugoslavia was broken up post the civil war in the 1990s.  The current discussion whether to support the rebels more or with/without Assad Syria misses the point because the Syria of 2011 no longer exists.