Life, politics, killing and destruction in Syria will not be put on hold until November when Americans elect a new president. No one should expect the new president to be any different from the current one, Barack Obama, in regards to the US' bad policy in our region. The current American regression is not related to him or a policy he invented, but rather represents a true American mood that is recently becoming more isolated and more interested in internal issues (the economy).
America is supposed to rise up in anger when it sees Russian long-range bombers taking off from Iran's Hamedan International Airport to bomb targets in Syria; not out of rage and caring for the people there – this is no longer one of Obama's interests, he has frequently failed that moral test – but rather out of strategic balances in the region. It is an event that is no less important than the Czech arm deal agreed between late Egyptian President Abdel Nasser and the Soviets in 1955 and which marked their arrival into the region. The American reaction at that time was a series of strategic mistakes that have strengthened the Soviet presence, but at least there was a reaction. This time, Washington merely expressed its concern and dissatisfaction saying that this violates the agreement made between the P5+1 and Iran last year, adding that it was informed of the matter, but it did nothing. America did not do anything to restrain the Russians in Ukraine so why should we expect it to do something in our region?
American and European generations that came after World War II and who were never reluctant to jump into external intervention escapades, whether good or stupid, are long gone, and they have been replaced by young leaders who are busy discussing health insurance systems, interest rates and enjoying life.
The US, Britain and France do remember that they are superpowers from time to time, and they carry out external policies that show confusion. These policies range between indifference and stepping back from red lines they've committed to in international meetings held in a historic hall in Paris or Vienna. This in the end leads to their lack of intervention to protect the Syrian people or merely standing as spectators watching as coup organisers and armed gangs in Yemen reject the UN peace proposals offered. I'm speaking about the peace initiative proposed by the UN envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh at the end of four months' of negotiations in Kuwait, which were in vain after Houthis rejected them. The international community did not get angry. It could not even call for a session of the Security Council to be held. It only said that negotiations would continue.
The international community is taking the same position in Syria. There are negotiations but with no international power to impose anything and thus they lead to nothing. The only thing that is happening is more Russian, Iranian and recently Chinese encroachment, while the only capable responses are Syrian and Yemeni resistance which are waiting for bigger and stronger support from their Saudi and Turkish allies.
It is no longer important to answer the puzzling question: Why do Russians continue to get themselves more involved in Syria? Is it because they are happy to look more powerful than weak Americans, for an old complex that used to govern the relations of the two countries? Or is it because Russians are concerned about the rising power of jihadists coming from their side of the world and are afraid they would return to their countries; this includes Chechens, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Dagstanyen and even Russians. There are so many mysterious stories about them coming from Syria, the latest of which is the story of Jilymord Khalimov, an officer in the elite Tajik forces who recently joined Daesh and appeared in a video threatening Americans, who he knows well as he received three training courses in the United States to put into practice in the war on terrorism within the Washington programmes of cooperation with repressive governments such as the Tajik government. Maybe the threats of Khalimov to Americans make the Russians happy, but they know that if he went back to his country, he would fight them as well.
No one knows how many there are. The majority belongs to Daesh, some are with Al-Nusra Front and others are not affiliated with any party. The scene in Syria has turned into an arena for international jihad, for training, preparation and looking forward to the future, but why don't Russians listen to Saudis and Turks when they say: What Russians are doing is feeding and fuelling all of this.
Even China, which is worried about the growing power of Turkistan's Islamic Party, is looking for a role in Syria. Why not? Russia is already playing a role there and the regime, which has lost all of its authority, has welcomed it, and is willing to accept anyone who will cooperate with it as long as it fights with it and protects it. It no longer cares about the goals of the next army coming to its country or the declared or hidden interests.
Ironically, most of the jihadists coming from Putin's region are affiliated with Daesh, while Chinese jihadists are affiliated with Al-Qaeda, and they have good relations with Syrian rebels, as they have done well in the latest battle to lift the siege of Aleppo.
We must unfold the map of this troubled and intertwined world in northern Syria as we try to analyse conflicting statements that say Americans and Russians would begin joint operations in the war on terrorism in Aleppo. This was part of statements by the Russian defence minister on Monday, while there was no reaction from Americans. Previously, there were numerous statements regarding American-Russian cooperation in the war on terrorism in Syria after a meeting between Erdogan and Putin, which are mainly soothing statements that will collapse when things move away from saying "war on terrorism" to actually defining who the terrorists are. Turks believe US-backed Kurds are terrorists, Chinese believe that Turkistan's jihadists are terrorists, and Russians believe everyone is a terrorist, while Americans no longer know where they stand!
Perhaps Syrians in Aleppo are the best strategic analysts in the region. They are not waiting for what the US elections will bring, and not even the outcome of the meeting between their Turkish ally and the Russian enemy. They did not even care for the different opinions regarding the definition of who terrorists are. They agreed to lift the siege of their town, they united and they did it, turning the tables against everyone. It is not important who provided them with the Tao missiles which ravaged Russian armoured vehicles, whether it was Saudi Arabia, Turkey, or Qatar or the three of them and it does not matter if winning their battle can serve regional schemes for their allies. What matters to them is that they impose their plans onto everyone from Moscow and Washington to Riyadh and Ankara, and I believe they received the respect and recognition they deserve.
Translated from AlKhaleejOnline, 20 August 2016.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.