It takes a good friend to help someone in need. For Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, that good friend turns out to be the Russians who are sending 1,000 troops and temporary housing for them to Syria to help the civil war-torn country on two fronts: rebels and the Islamic State.
As the world rightfully cries over the crisis of refugees flooding Europe, Russia’s help is coming at an opportune time for everyone. Unfortunately, it also marks what is likely a permanent presence in the Middle Eastern country that bridges the gap between their other buddies in Iran and their unofficial enemies in Israel. It also gives the Russians an opportunity to forge a permanent presence in the Middle East that’s built on their own terms, a situation they’ve coveted for decades.
In case you think that 1,000 troops and an airfield is a tiny military presence, it’s important to remember that history shows Russia and the United States have both been known to start off with a token military presence that is designed to set up something much bigger in the long run.
This is not the type of effort that’s put into building a temporary assistance base to quell an uprising. This is the start of a much bigger initiative, one that will likely establish the Russian military in a major way in the Middle East. The United States intelligence services as well as those in Europe and Israel are likely already seeing this and trying to determine how they can keep this from coming to pass. It may be too late, as US Secretary of State found out on a phone call with his Russian counterpart.
“The secretary made clear that if such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-Isil coalition operating in Syria,” the State Department said in a release.
If Russia sets up permanent camp in Syria, it’s likely that al-Assad will remain in command from a political perspective but that the real power will rest with Russia’s military and Iran’s Ayatollah Khameini on the policy front.
Here is a chronological flow of Tweets that detail what has been happening with this escalation.
— alper boler (@alperboler) August 31, 2015
— Bosphorus Naval News (@Saturn5_) September 4, 2015
4 years later, costs of Syria war spilling into developed world. If anything forces the world to pay attention, that would be it.
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) September 5, 2015
Liwa al-Haqq (Jeish al-Fath) commander reacts to news of Russian intervention: Sure, come to Syria. We'll kill you. pic.twitter.com/SfBLjhJdrx
— Sam Heller (@AbuJamajem) September 6, 2015
— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) September 6, 2015
— Green lemon (@green_lemonnn) September 6, 2015
— Beyond The Levant (@TheRealBTL) September 6, 2015