This act will have profound implications for the Middle East.

An Airbus (AIR.PA) A321 crashed 23 minutes after taking off from the Sharm al-Sheikh tourist resort eight days ago, killing all 224 passengers and crew. Islamic State militants fighting Egyptian security forces in Sinai said they brought it down.

russia-egypt-plane-crash-debris-wreckage-military-helicopter-above-hassana-sinai.jpg@protect,0,0,1000,1000@crop,658,370,c

So far, Vladimir Putin has been strangely silent on what Russia’s response will be to this. But we can be certain that he will be under huge domestic pressure to seek retribution.

The SMH writes some might expect Russian President Vladimir Putin to reconsider the wisdom of entangling his forces in the multinational campaign to contain Islamic State militants threatening to overrun Syria and oust its Kremlin-allied president, Bashar al-Assad.

That expectation will likely prove wrong.

His move to use Russian aircraft to attack ISIS and, indirectly, other rebel groups fighting Bashar Hafez al-Assad caught Western allies by surprise.  This intervention has added new complication to the already murky politics of the situation in Syria.

Putin: expect things to get ugly
Putin: expect things to get ugly

But the nature of the Russian response to this atrocity can only take one of two forms: Increasing the rate at which airstrikes are carried on against ISIS or deploying Russian ground troops into Syria.  Increasing the airstrikes is unlikely to ease the domestic political pressure on Putin and is unlikely to make much of an impact on the rebel group who are already withstanding the military might of most of the main forces in the world.

So the Kremlin must be considering moving ground troops into Syria. Ostensibly, they would be fighting ISIS but there will also be significant collateral damage to those groups that are fighting Assad’s forces.

Russian ground troops on the ready
Russian ground troops on the ready

This will leave the Western Allies in a terrible dilemma. Do they intervene to stop the Russians attacking rebel groups that are normally their allies and who they are certainly supplying with military equipment? This would probably mean sending troopsInto defend their rebel allies and would run a huge risk of military confrontation with the Russians.

Or do they just ignore it as they have ignored Russian airstrikes and let the Russian ground forces wipe out Assad’s opposition?

Perhaps there are are wise heads in the Kremlin who remember Russia’s intervention in Afghanistan which, like so many imperialist interventions and sovereign nations, was the graveyard of many Imperial nations military ambitions.

British invasions Afghanistan in 1839, 1878, 1919, and 2001 had absolutely no effect.
British invasions Afghanistan in 1839, 1878, 1919, and 2001 had absolutely no effect.

I’ve written a number of blogs on military interventions which you can find at War in the Middle East.

There is also a good article by CBC news

Is it right for Western nations to intervene abroad using military force? There are few questions in our time that are as incendiary.

When military intervention appears to be the only option, it is almost certainly the wrong answer
When military intervention appears to be the only option, it is almost certainly the wrong answer

Whatever happens, this act may prove a game changer and almost certainly for the worse.

We should not lose sight of the fact that it was US intervention in Iraq that led to the military a lead of Saddam Hussein’s army to establish ISIS.  Any Russian intervention in Syria will only lead to increasing complications and make the problem more intractable.

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