Commentary, Politics, World

Are the principals of the proxy war going down to the battlefield?

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At the point reached, the primary elements of the proxy war never became directly involved in the war.

After Russia’s latest step yesterday, adding a new dimension to the Syria issue, there are already plenty of analyses being made that the Middle East is expecting developments that will change the balances.

If you remember, there have been opinions that the civil war in Syria is a “proxy war,” the battle of both regional and global powers making reference to the actors in the background rather than those fighting in the battlefield. The accusations that the opposition has been receiving support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey and that the West, the U.S. in particular, has been behind all this were stated frequently. On the other hand, the matter that the struggling Baathist regime and Bashar Assad, who is trying to survive with support from Russia and Iran, was the opposite front of the proxy war.

At the point reached, the primary elements of the proxy war never became directly involved in the war. The U.S. and its alliances partially stepped in with the intervention of the anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levent (ISIL) coalition.

However, a decision made by the Russian parliament yesterday led to a situation where the real war was in the field, rather than the proxy war. Even though Russia is not in close combat with ground forces for the time being, it has taken a step toward directly being a party to the air forces. The equation formed as Assad and his opponents led to the Assad-Russia equation. Iran was already active in the field in the proxy war through Hezbollah.

The step that will be taken by the U.S. and Westerners in response to this is awaited in anticipation. The world more or less understood the U.S.’s image when Russia annexed Crimea. At least the Obama administration does not want to get into close combat. A similar thing happened when Russia provided actual military support to the Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Surely, Russia, which is trying to legitimize the military intervention by showing Assad’s call as a reason, knows that the equation is not so simple.

It has become clear with this step taken by Russia that the proxy wars period has really reached an end. There is a benefit in reading the following equation in the context of the U.S. and Russia and its alliances.

It is a fact that the U.S. doesn’t want to send its own soldiers to the battlefield in Syria. Another fact is that Russia doesn’t want a repeat of what it experienced in Afghanistan in Syria as well.

In this case, it is possible to make a correlation between the anti-ISIS U.S. airstrikes and military aid limited to Russia’s air forces. In addition, this step being taken immediately after presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin’s meeting, America’s ambassador to Moscow stating on Syria that Russia and Iran may work together, gives the impression that a possible equation has been jointly formed. The information, that Russia notified the U.S. before its airstrike on Homs as its first operation, gains enough meaning within this context. This is because Putin, before anyone else, is aware that after so much bloodshed and destruction, Russia’s military support alone is not going to be sufficient to determine the future of Syria.

On the other hand, in the global equation, we need to understand well Putin’s military actions and the silence of the Obama administration, despite the U.S.’s economy being shaken with the EU’s embargo and decreased oil prices.

Just as those who set off having confidence in the U.S.’s power and support regarding Syria since the very beginning were mistaken, those who think it is not responding militarily to Russia are no less mistaken.

Russia is taking strategic steps to become an empire once again. The U.S. side was the one that knew best that Russia would eventually make these attacks. All of the U.S.’s military attacks and invasions since Sept. 11 need to be understood as preemptive action against its possible regional rivals, Russia in particular. Otherwise there would be no meaning in bombing and invading the poorest country in the world. The U.S. is responding in a different method to Russia showing its intention to take part in the equation with its military force as a rival, and taking steps toward this end; it is using the means of its continuing great economic power instead of getting into close combat. It is applying more sophisticated war methods by responding to Russia through the embargo and oil prices.

The globalization of capitalism, dependency affairs, can render the forces at the center more effective than ever before. For now, the U.S. is trying to continue its strategic advantage by using the power of capitalism. It showed with its previous military actions in regions where it has strategic interest, that it has no intention of patrolling outside of its own priorities.

It could be said that at the point the Syrian crisis turned into a civil war, the expectation that the U.S. will support the opposition is due to misreading hegemonic power. If you remember, the Arab Spring riots that happened in countries like Tunis, Libya and Egypt showing signs of leaking into Gulf countries, had led to similar expectations in Syria. Those who were probably supporting the opposition in Syria to turn into an armed rebellion also acted with this expectation.

Whereas before anything, Syria was neither Libya nor Bahrain. More importantly, the U.S. neither had the desire nor strength to manage a crisis that has become chaotic in five-six countries at the same time. It did not pay much attention to a Syria that didn’t make peace with Israel, losing strength through civil war even at the expense of destruction.

While the domestic dynamics at the point reached are challenging the Assad regime, Russia and Iran’s support alone will not be enough to save it. The U.S. is trying to share the costs by finding global partners for the global crises. And if anyone rises against it, it chooses to tame them by enabling the sanctions of global capitalism. However, it doesn’t want to take a risk by directly stepping in crises that have no strategic priority. The validation of this situation can be seen in the reflection of the civil war in Syria, diplomatic attempts and strategic balances in the field. Those who fell for the charm of the U.S.’s power and universal discourses couldn’t have been more wrong. Yet, just as the countries in the region do not have the luxury of undermining the U.S.’s power, they also do not have the strength to pay the price of falling for the charm of the U.S.’s discourse. At least for now. Let us look at the happenings from this aspect a little.

Resource: World Bulletin, October 01, 2015

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Akif Emre is one of the founders of Yeni Safak newspaper and still remains a columnist in this newspaper. At the same time he continues as Chief-Editor of the Dünya Bulletin which is the first international news portal broadcasts in many languages ​​in Turkey.