Why is Russia in Syria?

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Why is Russia in Syria?

Edward Treivus Humber College student and political analyst.

October 27, 2015

The Syrian civil war has been going on since 2011, and is showing little to no signs of stopping. The civil war started with President Assad, a known to be authoritarian leader until a rebel force rose up and pushed towards ousting him of his power. A civil war began and continues to this very day. With a death toll well over 200 thousands, the rebels aren’t showing any sign of backing down, regardless of their continued financial difficulties and lack of supplies. The morale of the Syrian rebellion remains high.

The rebels were showing considerable promise to overthrow the Assad regime until a new force arose, ISIS or ISIL. The rebels had always shown interest in developing a democratic nation as opposed to ISIS that, though opposes the Assad regime, would rather have a nation under Sharia law (Islamic law). The conflict became harder to fight not only for Assad, but also for the rebels. Even if the rebels were to win the war, who would get Syria? Them or the ISIS? There has already been internal conflict with the two forces. An even bigger problem is the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the largest group of forces within the rebels had little to no choice but create a coalition with forces including the Mujahideen and the Islamic Front. This is mainly because the FSA is extremely disorganized and is comprised of all those who want to abolish Assad but  don’t otherwise belong to a faction. This includes former soldiers of the Syrian army. And don’t forget that the Kurds are a entirely other faction fighting in this conflict, a force that the western world has slowly started to support as they are the most organized fighters pursuing democracy. And at this point it looks like there will be no winners of the war, which is a big deal, for everyone.

With no signs of an ending conflict, the rate of emigration grew strong. Europe saw one of the largest mass migrations since the second world war. Almost all of the migrants were refugees escaping Syria. The huge population influx forced the rest of the world to compromise, come together and find the refugees a home. Russia, however, had a different thought in mind.

Russia had always shown favourable support towards Assad, but for the first time decided to get involved militarily. This issue, however, is why would Russia support Assad and his oppressive state as opposed to supporting the Kurdish forces or the rebels? The rest of the western world disagrees with Russia’s decision to get involved, especially for helping the other side, but the west and Russia both share one commonality, their hatred for ISIS.

The mystery behind Russia’s decision to go into Syria can be related to the history of diplomatic relations between Russia and Syria, or the economic relations that Syria and Russia have shared since Syria’s independence. But there really isn’t that much to gain from Syria in its current economic state. So what is there to gain from helping Assad? It may be the hope to restore an Assad ruled Syria that can continue to benefit Russia for years to come, but that’s no convincing factor for the western world.

To solve the Syrian crisis, a force would need considerable power to abolish the remaining factions, but to help the rebels would mean to go against Assad and ISIS. Such a decision would only worsen the situation due to the internal disorganization of the rebel forces and supporting the Kurds would deem even more difficult due to their low population compared to the rebels. The only reasonable option left would be to help Assad. Though it sounds like a contradiction, the Syrian army has the largest number of forces and only by helping the Syrian army can Syria eventually stabilize itself. The Syrian army fights the largest front against ISIS and if the west pursues to end ISIS and stop conflict in Syria, it ought to get over its differences and help the Syrian army before factions far worse than ISIS begin to grow.

To stabilize Syria, a force has to win, even if it is the opposed force. This is something that Russia knows, and that the western world ought to know. Though the opposing forces seem the most righteous, the Syrian army is the most organized and the strongest. This goes with the saying “If you can’t beat them, join them”.

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