After announcing in December that the US will withdraw its troops from Syria, President Donald Trump and the White House back tracked a number of weeks later, declaring the withdrawal may yet take a number of months.
After 8 years of conflict, Syria is a country in ruins.
On January 24, the Syrian-Kurdish forces backed by the US anti-Islamic State (IS) coalition barely repelled a counter-attack carried out by IS militants in the Syrian village of Baghuz Fawqani, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates where the river crosses the Syrian-Iraqi border.
In the summer of 2013, most commentaries on the Syrian civil war’s effect on Iraq’s Sunni population argued that the rise of Syria’s Sunnis against the government in Damascus had emboldened their co-religionists across the border, providing a morale boost to the Iraqi community that feels marginalized by a Shia-dominated Iraqi state, closely allied to Shia Iran. However, what was neglected in these assessments was the “cause and effect” relationship between the Syrian civil war and the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.
The Syrian regime's reliance on foreign forces (Russia, Iran and its Shia militia proxies) to turn the tide in its favor since 2015 has cast doubt on its ability to regain long-term sovereignty. Hybridity of security governance includes not only those foreign forces, but also the absorption of pro-government Syrian militias and even former rebel groups which have returned to the fold.
North Korea (DPRK) and Syria could have never been closer than today. On April 13th, at night, Donald Trump ordered to bomb Damascus with 120 Tomahawks, which were directly aimed at Assad’s suspected chemical facilities. A similar military operation was conducted exactly twelve months earlier, followed by the delivery of a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast – known as MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) – to an ISIS camp in Afghanistan.
Among the many diplomatic challenges that post-election Russia is going to face, perhaps its relations in the Middle East and the Syrian war are the greatest. Moscow will have to reap the rewards of a Middle Eastern foreign policy, which, despite having brought Russia back to the stage of global politics, risks seriously overstretching the Kremlin.