Saturday, November 28, 2015

Muddied Waters Spread Past Syria

What's going on outside of Syria?

Many issues have been created from the intake of large quantities of refugees in Europe. An underlying issue that penetrates public thought is the fear that ISIS has or could infiltrate the refugee population. These fears and threats have spread to all major powers including the US, France, the UK, Russia, and Germany. Even Pope Francis has warned of this issue. This fear is only amplified by the recent attacks on Paris, even though the perpetrators were from Belgium. France has vowed to respond with force both in relentlessly searching for parties responsible in Europe and stepping up operations in Syria. France is seeking assistance for this effort, but the viable options for assistance seem to be coming up short.

So who is doing what?

The United States has largely skirted on the edges of developing a real plan for assisting the French, save that of promising to help in whatever capacity needed. The US has encouraged the French to not invoke Article V of NATO, due to the fact that a full on engagement from NATO would likely not solve the underlying issues in Syria. President Obama is in the final months of his presidency, and is resisting to put boots on the ground for as long as he possibly can. This strategy has come under extreme criticism from Republicans, as well as Democrats who believe Obama is downplaying the attacks on Paris as a "setback".
UK Prime Minster David Cameron has taken a much more empathetic and proactive approach towards assistance to France. The UK faces the same threats as the rest of Europe with concerns to refugee populations, homegrown radical Islam, and ISIS cells. It is economically and intrinsically tied to France as well as the rest of Europe. PM Cameron has laid out a plan for amping up additional airstrikes in Syria and has resolved to put an end to ISIS operations.  However, PM Cameron is also leery of sending back ground troops to the Middle East. His plans include utilizing British airbases on Cyprus to launch offensive airstrikes and to eventually deploy RAF forces.
Russian involvement has been more aggressive, but the current tensions between Turkey and Russia may prove to be chaotic and troublesome for future efforts against ISIS. Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane, and what was once a concerted effort on issues in Syria may escalate to conflict between regional powers. The Turkish government has called for cooperation, but a Russian response is still to be determined. Russia's motives and operations have been questionable as far as who they are actually fighting. Russia has been accused of primarily helping the Assad regime instead of solely fighting ISIS. This proves to be complicated and troublesome in terms of the French seeking assistance in the region. Compounding this problem is the fact that the US's refusal to cooperate militarily with Russia--an issue that the French cannot afford to provoke.
An obvious regional supporter should be the Germans, however Chancellor Merkel faces domestic scrutiny of refugee and border policy, and Germany has not engaged in an offensive attack since WWII.

So what?

If situation in Syria wasn't complex enough, the addition of the struggle of world powers for operational dominance and restraint will confound any possible solution. The waters have muddied  to the point of opacity at this point, and a combined solution may not be reached for years to come. The best to hope for at this point is deescalation between Turkey and Russia, and a new US president with a strong grip on foreign policy.

No comments: