Russia’s Dramatic Syrian Entrance Causes NATO Concern
October 27, 2015
Russia, within the past couple weeks, has made its own decisive entry into the calamity that is the Syrian Civil War, launching missile attacks and airstrikes against targets across the torn-apart nation. Unfortunately, the Russians have begun their intervention in an unsettling way – Turkish airspace was reportedly violated by Russian aircraft, and NATO sources claim that Russia is not attacking ISIS. ISIS is considered by NATO and most national governments as the threat in Syria and Iraq, but instead missiles have been fired at enemies of the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, according to NATO.
Russia’s record with NATO is spotty at best, and jingoistic at worst, being involved with the highly controversial annexation of Crimea and the ongoing revolt in eastern Ukraine. Now, even after meeting on how to deal with Syria, Russia has gone ahead of NATO and began their own assaults, allegedly against targets that are not hostile to most nations. It is known that Russian president Vladimir Putin is a supporter of al-Assad, and has countered any suggestions of removing the Syrian president from power.
The forces fighting in Syria right now are counted in three parties: the military and supporters of president al-Assad’s regime, rebels fighting to remove him from power, and the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq. The conflict began during the Arab Spring of 2011, and by 2013 armed resistance to al-Assad had begun. In 2014, one group, which declared itself to be the Islamic State and a new “Caliphate” (supreme command of all Islam) overran huge sections of the nation, and have continued to occupy new territory well into the present day. They have been blamed for multiple human rights violations, attempts at genocide, and destruction of artifacts including the ruins of the city of Palmyra.
Bashar al-Assad became president of Syria in 2000, succeeding his father Hafez al-Assad, who had led the country for 30 years before dying. Initially seen as a reformer within Syria as well as by the international community, al-Assad turned around and ordered mass crackdowns on protests during the Arab Spring, a period of revolution across the so-called Arab world, culminating in sieges upon protesters. Eventually this led to a civil war that has turned Syria into a dying state and source of regional instability, allowing the rise of the Islamic State. The United States, NATO, and United Nations agree that al-Assad must be removed from power, while Russia and multiple others argue that he should remain in control. As it stands, the Syrian situation is still highly uncertain.