Russia’s Support of Assad
At the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as superpowers, and they spent the next few decades vying for control of the rest of the world through an ordeal known as the Cold War. It was exemplified by arms races, the space race, and the ever-present threat of nuclear war destroying the world. During the 1980s, the Soviet Union took a new policy of being more open about its internal affairs, and the West realized how much the country was declining. It dissolved at the beginning of the 1990s.
One thing that history tells us is that countries that were once great are usually keen on either recovering their greatness or remembering their era of importance as a legendary, nostalgic “golden age.” Many Russians who lived through the era of communism would hardly regard it as a “golden age,” but Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, was eager to reclaim Russia’s spot on the world stage. He was going to intervene in Syria, and if nothing else, he would get a warm-water port through which future trade might be negotiated. In fact, he might be developing Russian interests in the Middle East that could be later used to his advantage.
In August 2013, a gas attack by the Syrian regime against a civilian population in the Damascus suburbs of Ghouta alerted the international community for intervention to stop the bloodbath. President Obama pressed for the United States to launch air strikes and possibly even deploy ground troops, but what was ultimately decided was that Russia would oversee the disposal of chemical and other weapons by the Assad regime. One could say that the once-great country had the chance to prove that it could be great again.
In the years since Russia began its intervention in Syria, it has fiercely allied itself with Bashar al-Assad, who is still in power nearly eight years after the war started. Many analysts have argued that the situation in Syria has turned into a global proxy war, through which the United States wants to intervene as a means of not only ousting Assad but also degrading Russian power in the region. Additionally, Russian’s intervention may be associated with Iran’s, which also supports the Assad regime. Western governments are keen to intervene to protect their interests in the Middle East not only from unfriendly governments there but also from Russia.
The year after Russia set itself in the middle of the Syrian War, Putin annexed the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, possibly to get access to another warm-water port for trade. Since then, Russia has been viewed as increasingly hostile to the United States and was even implicated in meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. It once again took steps to become an international powerhouse and reclaim its former prestige by intervening in Syria. Questions about how the West should deal with Russia have only grown since it began its involvement in Syria.
Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:
“Young British Muslims think ISIS fighters returning from Syria should be reintegrated into society,” by Samuel Osborne. The Independent. April 17, 2017.