John Minehan's article "Few Thoughts on Syria" published in Writer Beat was the inspiration for the preparation of this article which summarizes the real problems involved in the conflict in Syria. Syria is today the epicenter of a battle that brings together various actors: the great enemy regional powers (Shiite Muslim Iran and Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia) and historical allies (the USA allied of Saudi Arabia and Russia allied of Iran). The Syrian conflict began when President Bachar Al Assad launched an offensive against the rebels of the Syrian Free Army. Meanwhile, other actors have stepped in inside the rebel movement, followed by extremists from the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Kurds. It has become clear that the geopolitical interests of the parties involved are very different.
This is a complex situation that has reached its peak with the entrance on the scene of the United States, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The US-led coalition is battling the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria. Russia, a faithful ally of Syria, fights against the Islamic state and bombs essentially the anti-Assad rebels to prevent the fall of Bachar Al Assad. Turks and Saudis are on the same side, that is, against Syria of President Bachar Al Assad. Turkey and Saudi Arabia consider that Syrian President Bachar Al Assad is not part of the solution to the future of Syria.
Associated with all this is the issue of Syrian refugees. Since 2011, Turkey has received 1.7 million Syrian refugees, a migration that has placed a heavy burden on Turkish institutions and society and helped undermine the political strength of Turkish President Erdogan in the regions bordering Syria. The Kurdish division in Turkey has already begun and will accelerate. This division will happen and an internal conflict may occur. Turkey has lost the chance of dialogue with the Kurds, to maintain a shared country. The Kurdish division will affect the region and will accelerate the union between the Kurds of Iraq, Syria and Turkey.
The political scenario in the Middle East, with the breakdown of Syria, the increase in the number of refugees and the territorial expansion of the Islamic State, in addition to the intervention of countries such as the United States and Russia, are already leading the region into a major war. In addition to the dramatic situation in Syria, with a civil war that has already hit five years, the situation is equally fragile in countries such as Iraq and in areas bordering Iran and Turkey itself, where they live about 15 million Kurds, a people who , after World War I, was divided and lives today in four countries.
It can be said that Syria has a fundamental strategic importance because it is the last stone of geopolitical chess in the region whose fall of Bachar Al Assad would lead to the siege of Iran, enabling the Western allies to reach the territory of this country by the Mediterranean Sea and Iraq which would guarantee passage for Allied troops to reach Iranian borders. Syria, which borders Israel, has always been important in the Middle East and, especially today, is part of a very delicate geopolitical chess because it is an allied country of Iran, along with those who sponsor extremely aggressive terrorist movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas in opposition to the State of Israel.
It should be noted that Russia has great interests in the region, because since the 1950s it has had an alliance with Syria. With the help of Russia, Syria has received large shipments of weapons and deployed a large air defense network. One must also consider the fact that it is through Syria that Russia is able to monitor the Mediterranean, with its military base of Tartur, installed there, the only one of the navy that it owns outside its territory. It is, therefore, a very broad geopolitical confrontation of various shades in the region. Syria has a powerful army, equipped with armaments supplied mainly by Russia and Iran. Syria has Iranian-supplied drones. Syria also has two powerful allies, Russia and China in the UN Security Council.
The recent US attack led by US President Donald Trump on a Bashar al-Assad air base in Syria has widened the United States-Russia deadlock about the civil war, with both sides promising the use of force. The tone adopted by the two nuclear powers was a threat, raising the tension between Washington and Moscow at a level similar to that experienced in the Cold War. The Kremlin called the US action "aggression" and "violation of international law" and said it would suspend the channel of communication with United States forces used to prevent the two countries from attacking Syria, since both operate in the country.
Donald Trump's intervention who sent 59 Syrian-based missiles from where would leave the chemical attack that killed at least 86 people would have resulted in unprecedented international support, just as President Trump has finally abandoned diplomacy and passivity that marked the American position in the first six years of the Syrian conflict - when Barack Obama ruled the country. European nations, such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom, supported the bombing, considered an adequate response to the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, credited to Assad.
And Moscow was not just in rhetoric. Hours after the bombing, a Russian frigate with cruise missiles entered the Mediterranean, toward the two American ships that launched the attack, according to information provided to Fox News by an American defense official. According to a Kremlin source, the ship will remain on the Syrian coast for at least one month. Russia has also announced that it will strengthen Syrian anti-aircraft defenses with missile batteries.
The night attack of 4/4/2017 when US ships fired 59 missiles at a military base in Syria was the first time the United States directly attacked Syrian regime facilities since the country's civil war began in 2011. The offensive was carried out on the orders of Trump as a reprisal for a suspected chemical attack by the Syrian army against civilians in the town of Idlib, one of the main bastions of rebel forces in the country. What are the consequences of this attack on the international scene? The first is the possibility of starting the US military escalation in Syria; the second concerns the deterioration of US-Russia relations; and the third is the commitment to combat the Islamic State. All that has just been reported may be the trigger for a new world war.
One fact is clear: the international system is collapsing thanks to the absence of democratic global governance that should be exercised by the UN. The time has come for humanity to equip itself, as urgently as possible, with the instruments necessary to control its destiny and to put into practice a democratic governance of the world. This is the only way to end wars and terrorism. A democratic governance of the world is extremely necessary because there is no other means capable of building a world of peace and universal fellowship. The preservation of peace is the first mission of any new form of world governance. Such governance can only result from consensus among all peoples and nations of the world. This would be the way to avoid wars and terrorism and to promote the convergence of all the peoples of the world around a common goal.
* Fernando Alcoforado, member of the Bahia Academy of Education, engineer and doctor of Territorial Planning and Regional Development from the University of Barcelona, a university professor and consultant in strategic planning, business planning, regional planning and planning of energy systems.