How Syria can be the scenario that intensifies the conflict between the United States, Russia, Iran and Israel

How Syria can be the scenario that intensifies the conflict between the United States, Russia, Iran and Israel

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The conflict in Syria is mainly a bloody civil war that, according to United Nations estimates, has caused some 400,000 deaths and forced the displacement of around five million people.

However, it is also the scene of several “proxy” wars , those that face great powers through third countries A complex panorama in which sometimes the friend of a friend can be an enemy.

“The international community has largely ignored the Syrian war,” Lina Khatib, a Middle East expert at the British think tank Chatham House.

” If we continue to wait seated this conflict will grow and hit us without even realizing it, ” he added.

Since the civil war in Syria began seven years ago, there has been interference from foreign powers, but experts fear that this will change to a more direct and committed action on the ground.

In recent days, three participants involved in the conflict have issued challenging warnings: Washington, Moscow and Tehran.

At a time when a diplomatic solution seems distant, what are the scenarios in which the Syrian war could be aggravated?

United States versus Russia

The Syrian conflict has revived the tensions of the Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

“These great powers are being led by real nationalists and of course that makes it difficult for a specific country to go back in a crisis,” Shashank Joshi, an analyst at the British center Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) told BBC News. .

US President Donald Trump publicly attacked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Sunday by criticizing his support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

President Trump in a meeting.
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption US President Donald Trump has threatened to take more direct military actions against Syria.

The accusation came after an apparent attack with chemical weapons in the Syrian city of Douma, controlled by the rebels.

Since then, Trump has threatened to take military action against the Syrian regime, and on Twitter he said Russia must “prepare” for the missiles that will be launched in Syria.

Moscow’s support for Al Asad includes the deployment of Russian troops to Syrian military bases.

Putin responded by warning against “unacceptable speculation and provocations” and talking about “serious repercussions” if there is to be a US military action.

The United States has already inflicted Russian casualties in the context of the Syrian conflict.

Last February there were reports of dozens of Russian deaths after attacks launched by the US. in the Syrian province of Deir al Zour.

But the Russian government said then that it was not regular troops, and described the victims as Russian citizens “who came to Syria of their own free will”.

The Russian Ministry of Defense estimates that 44 members of its army have been killed in Syria since Syria entered the conflict in 2015.

Posters of Putin and al-Assad at a military checkpoint.
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Vladimir Putin and Russia are strong allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In geopolitical matters, Syria matters a lot for both sides.

For Moscow, the Syrian territory is a bridge to the Mediterranean.

Although there is also the perception that support for Al Asad at a critical moment in the Syrian civil war was an assertion of Russian power in the Middle East , a region generally considered to be under US influence.

Washington, on the other hand, initially supported the Syrian opposition groups and later focused the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

Under the Trump government, the focus has again strayed to try to contain Iran’s influence in the region.

“Iran has dramatically strengthened its presence in Syria by deploying Revolutionary Guard troops, supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon and importing third-party forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere,” the then-US Secretary of State said in January. UU., Rex Tillerson.

The remains of a missile launched by Israel.
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGESimageImage caption These are the remains of an Israeli missile launched in attacks against Iranian positions in Syria, but which ended up falling on the Lebanese population of Kaoukaba, near the border.

Israel versus Iran

Iran supports Al Asad’s government and has provided them with troops. It also supports another “indirect army”, the Lebanese Shiite militia of Hezbollah.

Israel, despite having attacked numerous military targets in Syria, has not publicly admitted having a role in the conflict.

Hezbollah protest against Israel in Lebanon.
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Iran supports Al Asad’s government and has provided troops.

However, tensions between Tehran and Jerusalem increased in February after Israel intercepted an Iranian drone that entered its airspace.

Syrian air forces responded with a large-scale raid against Iranian and Syrian positions, resulting in the shooting down of an Israeli F-16 fighter.

It is believed to be the first time that Israel lost a warplane in action since the 1982 war with Lebanon.

Israel and Iran are closer to confrontation than at any time since the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

Both parties have sent strong warnings about the role that each plays in Syria.

Last November, during a speech in London, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country “would not allow Iran to dominate in Syria.”

Hezbollah forces.
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Hezbollah fighters are one of the elements that Iran handles in the Syrian conflict.

“They want to leave their army, their air bases and their fighter jets to Israel’s second and we will not let that happen.”

Last week, a senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, said Hezbollah could destroy Israeli cities.

Iran needs Syria to transport arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to support it in its fight against Israel.

Syria, moreover, is seen by Iran as an ally in the fight not only against Israel, but against Tehran’s largest regional rival: Saudi Arabia.

United States versus Turkey

The participation of the United States in Syria put Washington in a difficult position with one of its main allies in the Middle East: Turkey, member of NATO.

Turkish soldiers
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Turkish forces have gained ground in territories occupied by the Kurds in northern Syria.

Although there are reports of the presence of some 2,000 US troops. In Syria, the main contribution of that country so far have been thousands of air strikes and the training and equipping of a number of rebel groups.

Among them, the Kurdish militias.

US support The Kurds greatly dislike Turkey, which for decades has faced Kurdish separatism, including armed insurgencies that have caused more than 40,000 deaths.

So it was that Washington’s announcement in January that it would help establish a border force in northeastern Syria, mainly consisting of Kurdish fighters, led to the launching of a military offensive by Ankara

This has made two allies in NATO are on opposite sides of a power war.

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