What is Trump’s card in Syria?

January 2, 2017, 5:58 pm
What is Trump’s card in Syria?
What is Trump’s card in Syria?

What is Trump’s card in Syria?

Research Fellow at the Centre for Arabic and African Studies, JNU, New Delhi

After Russian diplomat Karlov’s assassination in Turkey that might have been a potential ignominy to Russia, unlike last November’s incident when Russian military aircraft was shot down by a Turkish fighter jet, the bilateral relations between the two countries did not hit the rock bottom. Instead, the leaders of both countries pledged to not let this contingency to deter the rapprochement process of Turkey-Russia ties and agreed to be cemented even stronger to fight terrorism.

The assassination takes place after the Aleppo carnage or as it was termed by UN “meltdown of humanity” carried out by the Assad army, backed by Russian and Iranian allies and the assassin was shouting, “Allahu-Akbar” , Don’t forget Syria, don’t forget Aleppo” and so on, before being gunned down in shoot out at crime scene.

Following the killing of Russian diplomat Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweets: "1/2 Russia has been responsible for horrendous violations of human rights & the murder of thousands innocent people in Syria & Ukraine."

In his follow-up tweet he maintains "2/2 This, however is no excuse 4 the murder of the ambassador of one sovereign state to another. Int law and human rights must be respected!

Both the shouting of assassin and the tweets of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin have commonly echoed the fact that the grave violations of human rights in Syria have been committed by Russia.

The fact of the matter is that Syria has pathetically now became the chessboard where Russia and US along with their allies, the two megalomaniac tyrants are ambuscading to play their prophylactic move to assert their supremacy. Amidst their attacks and moves, the sandwiched civilians are paying off the price. By terming the situation a “fog of war” Russian propaganda outlets are giving the benefit of doubt to Russia.

At a time when pro-Assad troops were on the verge to be ousted, Russia intervenes militarily in Syrian war under a false narrative of fighting against Islamic State. Russia’s bombing in Aleppo – where the presence of Islamic State was not even reported- and its deliberate targeting of nurseries, hospitals and civilians in rebel-held areas does not support the Russian reason of intervention.

With the weakening influence of US over Syria, Russia seizes a deal with Turkey persuading it to put high hands on Turkish-Syrian border by employing its troops and allied rebels, but not to intervene in Aleppo. Having come into a ‘special’ understanding with Putin, president Erdogan stayed indifferent from Aleppo to secure its future deals with Russia. The clever play of Iranian regime in aggravating the situation, particularly on sectarian lines (Shia-sunni), cannot be overlooked. Shortly after the killing of Russian diplomat, a tripartite meeting held in Moscow together with Iran, without involving Washington-where trios were even could agree on a “joint declaration” to find a solution fo Syrian civil war- further reflects Iran’s emerging role in Syria. Turkey's pseudo-sacrifices for Russia could have even further implications in future.

Moscow’s ambitions are high enough to be affected by a diplomat's assassination. Along with having a direct bearing on the credibility of Russia’s standing in regional geopolitics the upper hand of Russia in Syria's protracted crisis will show itself as a key world power to rival the US.

The Obama administration wanted an end to Assad’s regime by extending its reluctant support to Syrian rebels or moderate rebel. And depending on the future demand of US policies, who knows that moderate rebels one day would turn to be terrorists in the eyes of US itself.

However, already affronted by Russia's play in Ukraine and again in Syria, US has every reason to review its policies and playback from afresh. About to sworn in soon, President-elect Donald Trump has already indicated, “We’re going to help people” and promised to build “safe zones” in Syria “so people will have a chance.”

Now, it’s time to wait for the policies to be adopted by the President-elect Donald Trump towards Syria. It would also be interesting to see, how different would his strategy be from Barack Obama in the region.

After all, the most vexatious aspect of Syria’s perplexing story is that its protracted suffering is still far from over.

MA Mufazzal is Research Fellow at the Centre for Arabic and African Studies, JNU, New Delhi