With all the external information about the capacity to throw videoconferencing Russian attacks on the positions of the terrorists in Syria, where the situation does not radically changed in favor of B. Assad. To some extent, you can even say that the Russian military operation in Syria has started chocking. The present contingent that has been deployed to Syria is clearly not strong enough to cast a decisive blow against the infrastructure of the armed opposition. In recent weeks, Damascus has been able to achieve only limited success in the outskirts of the Syrian city of Aleppo. However, the overall strategic situation is truly puzzling, since the Syrian army is suffering from the lack of human resources. Government troops are taking defensive engagements, trying to get entrenched within a relatively small perimeter while advancing whenever it’s possible. But so far the offensive operations of the Syrian haven’t scored any major achievements. At the same time, Russia’s air corps is not big enough to steal a victory in this war. To capture and retain such major cities like Aleppo and Raqqa, one must have at his disposal tens of thousands of well trained and equipped soldiers. There only problem is that there’s no such force. Iran lacks the manpower to support any major offensive in Syria, while the Hezbollah has been bled dry.
At the same time Russia itself is in a rather difficult situation because of the international isolation and the ongoing economic crisis. Therefore an ever increasing number of experts from the “inner circle” has been advising president Putin to stop supporting Syria and put an end to the military operation in this state, limiting its support to arms supplies only. There’s a belief that it would give a considerable momentum to the peace negotiations within the UN framework, which would allow the United States to replace Bashar al-Assad with a transitional government in 2017. But there are those who insist on the continuation of the Russian military operation in Syria, especially against the background of the recent events in Turkey, which has virtually forced Ankara out of any sort of meddling in this conflict. Moreover, Tayyip Erdogan has been transformed into a sort of an ally for Moscow by the failed military coup. Which is even more crucial, the Persian Gulf monarchies are no longer capable to increase their support of the armed opposition, which has forced Riyadh to seek a temporary solution to the Syrian conflict that will include president Bashar al-Assad remaining the head of the state.
However, one must all subject the details to a careful reconsideration before taking any decision on the future of the military campaign in Syria. If we are to take a close look at the losses of Iran the Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict, we will notice that Tehran has sacrificed over 800 soldiers in the military campaign and spent tens of billions of dollars to assist Damascus. As for the Hezbollah, it has lost up to 1,700 of its militants. Russia’s losses are gradually increasing too, and the Russian population is not quite as enthusiastic as it was before about supporting Bashar al-Assad, since the Russian Federation is facing a fair share of internal problems right now. It’s the eve of parliamentary elections in the country that will be come on the back of the Olympics doping scandal, which has cast a serious blow to Moscow’s reputation.
There’s little doubt that should Hillary Clinton ends up sitting in the White House, she would pursue the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad with all the possible means, while strengthening American intervention in the Syrian war, transforming a successful Russian operation in a failure. It should also be noted that Saudi Arabia has offered Moscow to exchange Bashar al-Assad for the financial assistance and the guaranties that Russia will preserve its presence in the region. How else can one interpret the strange statement of Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir that announced Saudi Arabia’s readiness to assist Russia in becoming a great power in the Middle East, which would enjoy the same influence that the Soviet Union used to. A Saudi top diplomat said that he’s convinced that it would be reasonable for Russia to enjoy close ties with Saudi Arabia, instead of assisting Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, since Russia may gain access to the markets of the GCC member states and obtain serious investments. Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir is convinced that “Assad’s days are numbered” so he urged Moscow to make a deal with Saudi Arabia while it is still possible.
It is difficult to imagine that President Vladimir Putin will accept a defeat Syria. He created the image of the strong leader that has restored Russia’s global influence. Should the Assad regime fall, Moscow will lose the only military facility abroad – the naval base in Tartus. In addition, the loss of Syria would have catastrophic regional consequences, since the fall of Damascus will be immediately followed by regime change in Tehran and the collapse of the Iraqi state.
That is why, should the Russian military operation of supporting Syria’s troops along with Iran and the Hezbollah will result in a failure, Moscow may try to do everything to avoid defeat, and thereby convert the conflict into a new, more dangerous phase. This means that Russian “boots on the ground” will sweep the positions of radical terrorists. But when Russian soldiers will start dying in Syria, the situation would become completely unpredictable. President Vladimir Putin has already mentioned the possibility of further military escalation, saying that Russia has been using a small part of its military arsenal, but there’s other methods and means that can be used, if it’s necessary.
So far one thing is clear: The Kremlin at crossroads in Syria. Should it carry on its military operation it will expose itself to the risk of suffering huge financial losses against the background of the ongoing economic crisis. Should it leave it will show its weakness and the decision to support Damascus would be presented as misguided gamble to the international community. It will also mean the loss of all prestige and influence in the Arab world. This choice is an extremely difficult one, but sooner or later one will have to make it.