For the last five years or so, there has been a great unrest in the political regime of Syria which has matured into a civil war. In this civil war, the fractured and divided opposition groups (rebel groups such as the IS) of Syria have been trying to topple their president Bashar al-Assad. The majority of other nations such as the United States were of the opinion that the war would not be solved by any military action but could be solved if and only if the two conflicting parties came to one political accord. However, from the unfolding turn of events, it was clear that a political accord would be hard to come by. The relevance and impact of a military action was displayed when the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin intervened in the war and caused a drastic turn of the war (Sanger "Russian Intervention in Syrian War Has Sharply Reduced U.S. Options"). The intervention was not supported by any other country, but Assad had requested for it. Reports from within and beyond Syria state that the intervention has claimed, in addition to the IS rebels, the Syrian civilians. Russia was pressured by countries such as Europe and the U.S. to do away with the intervention but to no avail. In this essay, the Russian intervention in Syria will be assessed in a bid to establish what the main reasons for the intervention were and what impacts the intervention posed, not only to Syria but other countries. A brief overview of the intervention will also be incorporated in this essay so as to get a gist of the whole scenario so far.
The Russian intervention in Syrias civil war commenced in September 2015. As pointed out by The Guardian, in an article by Quinn, the intervention was the first major military action carried beyond the borders of the Soviet Union by Russia since the culmination of the cold war. At the end of September 2015, Assad asked for military aid from Putin in fighting the civil war against the rebel opposition. Moscow responded by initiating the first airstrikes within Syria. Early in October 2015, the airstrikes were said to have targeted the communications and command centers of the rebels. The U.S. and the Human Rights Watch said called on Russia to stop their attacks as they were a violation of the laws of war. However, later that October, Assad thanks Putin for intervening and inflicting a great turning point in the war. In November 2015, the intervention caused the first Moscow versus Turkey (a Nato country) direct fire as Turkey attempts to protect its airspace which Barack Obama supports. Between the end of November and December, Russia deploys ground troops to Syria in addition to the T-90 battlefield tank which is considered the most advanced tank in Russia. In December also, Putin informs he will scale up the military intercession in Syria. In January 2016, Assad regime is enabled to retake territories near Latakia. In February, the European leaders object to the intervention and at the same time the U.S. condemn the intervention, the world is assumed to be slipping into another cold war. In March 2016, over 4,408 people are declared dead including 1733 civilians after which Putin relays a message to Assad that majority of the military support will be withdrawn as it the interventions objectives had been mostly attained (Quinn "Russia's Military Action in Syria Timeline").
In the first place, the intervention can be associated with the major purpose of preserving and strengthening the Assad regime (Iddon "Assessing The Russian Intervention in Syria, One Year On"). Russia, specifically Moscow, has shown great intervention in the civil war by providing air support through which extensive bombing has been done within Syria (Lucas 1). At the end of September 2015, airstrikes were authorized after Assad asked Putin for military aid. There have been lots of uncertainties to whether the air attacks only affected the IS target or also impacted the non-rebel civilians. Along with this lines, the Russians were accused of adding salt to a wound of the war instead of reducing it (Quinn "Russia's Military Action in Syria Timeline"). All in all, the intervention has been said to achieve the immediate goal of a short-term international acceptance of the regime of President Assad and has also contributed to the removal of any reference to the presidents future plans of initiating an 18-month political transition (Lucas 1; Kaim and Tamminga 2).
In a second instance, the interventions secondary aim is to stabilize the legally recognized government in Damascus which would, in turn, create the preconditions for a political compromise in Syria (Kaim and Tamminga 2). For instance, there have been efforts of creating a de-facto no-fly zone for the Western anti-IS over some parts of Syria that are yet to be declared (Kaim and Tamminga 3). This goal of the intervention will certainly create a more stable Syria if Damascus is stabilized as well. This goal can be linked to that of Israel in which the fact that Russian military is present in Syria poses a negative effect on the freedom of Israels military operations including the access to Syrias airspace (Kaim and Tamminga 3). The restrictions of accessing Syrias airspace creates a difficulty for Israel to be proactive in fighting the Iranian deliveries of arms to Hezbollah via Syria other words, Israel depends on the Syrian aerospace so as to launch air attacks on Iranian illegal arms delivery for IS which might be viewed as a disadvantage for Israel.
Notably, the intervention has impacted Syria as a country within its borders and beyond the borders. In addition to this, the intervention has affected the associations between systems, communities and countries. Yes, it has been able to bolster Assads regime but has not ascertained the regime's future. Even worse, some of the rebel-infested zones have slipped back into the rebels hands. These zones include the Southern Aleppo territory and also the rebels have won had victories in the northern Hama Province which extends to the highway interconnecting Hama-to-Aleppo (Lucas, 12). In other words, the intervention has only been successful to a given degree but has still caused much damage within Syria; deaths of around 1,733 civilians in between September 2015 and early March 2016 (Quinn "Russia's Military Action in Syria Timeline"). In other words, the intervention has caused more deaths within Syria for the innocent civilians; this would only lead to more resistance rather than reduce it.
The intervention has however been associated with mitigating most of the pathways that the U.S. via the C.I.A. has been using to arm the rebel forces. The mitigation certainly means that the intervention having cut off the rebels sources of arms has attained an even better leverage of assuring prolonged though temporal stability. In other words, the rebels are weaker and are forced to flee from some territories which are expanding the territories in control by Assads regime. From how the events are unfolding, Syria will only acquire stable political system if Assad acquires control of a majority of the territories within Syria (Sanger "Russian Intervention in Syrian War Has Sharply Reduced U.S. Options"). At the same time, the intervention has led to UNs withdrawal from helping bring the civil war to an end since the Russians refuse to withdraw their attacks (Iddon "Assessing the Russian Intervention in Syria, One Year On").
To sum it all up, the intervention of Russia in the Syria civil has attracted great concern to most of the countries worldwide. It has evidently resulted in much damage than gain. From Syrias point of view, the intervention has prolonged Assads regime and has to some extent caused political stability in the nation and it has helped cut off most of the major arms supply for the rebels. However, the stability is only timely and has cost too many innocent lives. Further, it has propagated much antagonism between Syria and neighboring countries as well as between Russia and other country tries such as Turkey. In light of these negative impacts, the intervention may as well be regarded as a probable catalyst to the future rivalry between nations and even worse to greater unrest within Syrian borders. If Russia is to intervene in the war, it should consider the role of other countries and bodies such as the UN in stopping the civil war and cooperate with them. Also, it should ensure that all the attacks aimed towards the rebels do not involve civilian casualties as is the previous case.
Iddon, Paul. "Assessing The Russian Intervention in Syria, One Year On." Rudaw.net. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 Nov. 2016.
Kaim, Markus and Oliver Tamminga. Russias Military Intervention In Syria Its Operation Plan, Objectives, And Consequences For The Wests Policies. Berlin: German Institute for International and Security Affairs, 2015. Web. 4 Nov. 2016. SWP Stiftung Wissenschaft Und Politik.
Lucas, Scott. The Effects of Russian Intervention in The Syria CrIS. Birmingham: University of Birmingham, 2015. Web. 4 Nov. 2016. UK GSDRC.
Sanger, David. "Russian Intervention in Syrian War Has Sharply Reduced U.S. Options". Nytimes.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 Nov. 2016.
Quinn, Ben. "Russia's Military Action in Syria Timeline." The Guardian. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 Nov. 2016.
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