Russia military intervention to tip balance in favor of Syrian government

Alwaght- Russia has conducted its first airstrike against ISIS in Syria on Wednesday as it defied western criticism for joining the fight against terrorism alongside the Syrian government.

Maj. Gen Igor Konashenkov said the airstrike pinpointed ISIS targets such as military equipment, communication centers, vehicles and ammunition.

Earlier, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament unanimously gave President Vladimir Putin the green light to use the nation’s military in Syria to fight terrorism.

Regarding international and political norms it can be concluded that Moscow is more serious than ever about becoming militarily involved in Syria in a bid to assist Damascus, Hezbollah, and Iran in terminating the five-year crisis which most Syrians see as a protracted foreign-waged war against their nation.

Not only has Russia shown its commitment to fight terrorism in Syria but it has also done so blatantly in defiance of western threats. This way Russia proves that confronting terrorism is not exclusive for the US and its allies who have repeatedly failed to eradicate the terrorist groups they so frequently claim to be targeting in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria.

On a regional level, Russia’s military presence in Syria will force weaker countries such as Turkey and Qatar to alter their policies. Turkey, on the one hand, has been allowing terrorists to cross the border into northern Syria . Qatar, on the other hand, has had a major part in funding terrorist groups in a bid to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.

But most notably, Russia’s involvement in Syria will make Saudi Arabia think twice before it threatens Damascus with military action again.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, raised the stakes by warning Assad that he will be removed by force, should he remain in power.

“There are two options for a settlement in Syria. One option is a political process where there would be a transitional council. The other option is a military option, which also would end with the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power,” Al-Jubeir said.

The FM also admitted that his country is backing so-called “moderate rebels.”

In September 2014, the US and its allies began striking ISIS targets inside Syria. Since then, ISIS has been expanding its operations and consequently gained more territory. According to a report published on the Wall Street Journal three months after the coalition began bombing extremists’ positions, militants “enlarged their hold in Syria since the U.S. started hitting the group’s strongholds there in September.”

Alternately, the Russian’s airstrikes are expected to be effective, meaning that terrorist targets will be eliminated. In the absence of aid drops, attacking ISIS positions will actually serve the purpose of eradicating the groups instead of secretly providing logistical and financial support.

However, this is not to say that the Syrians and Russians will not face challenges in their quest to remove ISIS from the war-torn country. One major challenge was and remains: cutting off the support-line stretching from Turkey and ISIS-controlled provinces in Iraq into Syria.

Despite their different approaches and military objectives, the US-led coalition and Russia must coordinate operations while flying over Syria. While maintaining their operations separate, the two sides should synchronize their airstrikes to avoid any potential conflict that might jeopardize not only the region but the entire world as it is.

This article was written by Fatima Hanan Elreda for Alwaght on Oct. 4, 2015.