What’s going on in Syria?

Whats going on in Syria?

Kyle Lacey, Sophmore Staff Writer

Currently, Syria is a war torn nation split into several divisions thanks to an ongoing civil war that started about four years ago; so far leaving an estimated 220,000 dead and many more injured.

World superpower Russia has recently joined the fight with histrionics: reportedly, a three-star Russian general strode into the U.S. Baghdad embassy on September 30th, 2015, declaring,The Russian military will begin air strikes in neighboring Syria within the hour — and the American military should clear the area immediately.” With this, the series of Syrian bombings began, as well as a cold war rivalry between two nations.

Since the start of the war, Russia has steadfast claimed to be targeting the Islamic State, better known as ISIS or ISIL. As the country continues its airstrike campaign, it has become evident that Russia has been targeting locations under control by forces such as the Free Syrian Army, as well as several civilian-based locations. It’s also become clear that they are in support of sitting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his regime, consequently aiding his hold on power and leveling out the playing field faced by the two sides.

From the looks of it, Russia is trying to participate in a war with seemingly no end. Moscow is signaling a long-term interest in keeping its presence in the Middle East. They are reportedly shipping some of their most advanced surface-to-air missile systems to a newly founded base in Latakia, Syria’s most principal port city. This is blatant counter to Russia’s claim to assault the Islamic State, as ISIS hasn’t been flying around in Syrian air space. “We see some very sophisticated air defenses going into those airfields, we see some very sophisticated air-to-air aircraft going into these airfields,” Gen. Phillip Breedlove, chief of the U.S. European Command, as well as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, said Sept. 28. “I have not seen ISIL flying any airplanes that require SA-15s or SA-22s [Russian missiles]. I have not seen ISIL flying any airplanes that require sophisticated air-to-air capabilities. These very sophisticated air defense capabilities are not about ISIL… they’re about something else.” Russia’s air-based force is far more superior than its ground force, two-thirds of which are untrained draftees. Thus, if Russia did go head-to-head with the U.S. in this conflict, it would be by air (and sea).

So what is really going on in Syria? Russia only entered this conflict to try and, in a sense, intimidate the U.S. The U.S. currently considers Russia’s invasion of and position in the Ukraine to be illegal. If they were to acknowledge Russia’s presence in the Ukraine as legitimate, chances are they wouldn’t be fighting for assad in the first place. Secondly, the mass of the fighting is between the rebels and the Assad Regime. ISIS is a present force, but is not a major concern to the two forces. Russia’s claims seem to be illegitimate at this point to why it joined in on the Syrian conflict, as ISIS has not caused them any major concern other than the recent airliner crash which they took credit for. Mind you the crash occurred after Russia got involved with Syria. Yet they began bombing them (and other targets) while ISIS posed them no immediate threat prior to this crash. Why?

Russia wants to participate in a proxy war between themselves and the U.S. A proxy war is basically  a war instigated by a major power that does not itself become majorly involved in the armed conflict itself. This is precisely Russia’s game as the mass of its ground forces are far inferior to  the U.S. marines alone, they are using Iranian and Syrian forces at their will without dispensing a large amount of their own forces other than their air force. Which makes one think, what is Russia’s end game? What will happen if the two Cold War rivals actually went at one another in a full front attack, head- to- head? And will it be in our lifetime?