Russia has officially re-entered the world stage via Syria; with tensions rising and lines being blurred between the state and its enemies, Russia seems to have stepped in as a savior of sorts.
Bashar al-Assad, the current president of Syria, was accused of human rights violations and crimes against humanity during his second seven-year term. In recent history, Facebook bans and internet censorship were causes for outside concern.
Prior to being reinstated for a third term in 2014, both the local and international community alike thought him a potential reformer. Once in office, however, he began to suppress all Arab Spring protesters using military force.
For many countries and human rights organizations these events would have been enough to attempt to restrict or remove him from office. In 2014, Syria’s third and most recent election came and went with Bashar taking the presidential seat. Despite many international groups calling for his resignation or removal, no action was taken.
There are an innumerable amount of anti-government groups within Syria that aim to overthrow Bashar by entering the border with militant force that would most likely halt, harm and usurp the progress that members of the human rights organizations have worked so hard to achieve.
In order to maintain this balance, the U.S. has been supporting the anti-government regimes within Syria that aim to take down Bashar. It’s unclear which groups exactly are being funded by the U.S., but the end goal is to remove a government that only aims to oppress its people.
Another group involved in this conflict not affiliated with any of the previous mentioned parties is ISIS, or ISIL. They have gained significant attention in the media by releasing videos to news stations of executions from around the world.
ISIS also recently made a declaration of caliphate.
A caliphate is a type of government that is led by a caliph, a person considered a political and religious successor to the prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire Muslim community. ISIS has received many criticisms within Islam from both theologians and authorities condemning their actions and their caliphate.
Now, Russia has stepped in and is lending arms to the Syrian government, while also speaking out against America’s back door approach to resolving the conflict in Syria. In the 2015 Valdai Club, a meeting of international experts focused on Russia and its role in the world, Putin called to question the U.S. government decision to “declare a fight against terrorists but at the same time try to use some of them to move the pieces…in [their] own favor.”
According to John Kerry, Secretary of State, he and his Russian-government counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, are in talks to resolve the civil war in Syria. The clearest obstacle to progress is that Russia supports Bashar while the U.S. doesn’t.
Lavrov maintained Russia’s belief that the people of Syria ought to be able to choose who leads them once the civil war can be resolved. Even so, the U.S. continues to fund those same factions that would help eradicate the volatile government system Russia is attempting to preserve. In an interview with the New York Times, the Saudi foreign minister agreed with the U.S. position that there is “no place for [Assad] in any transitional government,” and as of now, time will have to tell which nation seems to be taking the right approach.
As the U.S. and Russia try to work out peace talks, ISIS continues to grow in numbers. Since Russia’s involvement however, the borders of ISIS controlled land have actively been pushed back and major cities and villages have been recovered by airstrike or ground combat. In juxtaposition to Russia’s forceful yet result-oriented approach, America’s efforts in the area are now being viewed as a failed to attempt at solving this crisis.
Some speculate another world war could arise if all parties do not proceed carefully. History between Russia and the U.S. has been all but stable, and some feel that their involvement in this war is a passive-aggressive way to settle bad blood. Using Syria as a playground is far from wise, especially during a civil war.
Others feel Putin is making moves to become a dominant world leader. As tensions ebb and flow in the region, time will tell what the results of current actions will be.
Setheesh is a sophomore mathematics and religious education major.