World news – While Biden ponders Syrian war policy, Russia stands ready to increase its regional influence


AP – The Biden administration ponders America’s role in Syria’s ongoing conflict as the US tries to break away from the wars in the Middle East, but Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat was already employed on the ground trying to To win support for an approach to Syria that could establish itself Russia as a mediator of security and power in the region.

The new US administration has yet to say how to deal with Syria, which is now fragmented among half a dozen military – including US troops – due to a war that killed and displaced millions. The conflict includes al-Qaeda members, Islamic state forces and other jihadist groups who want to use Syria as a base.

Russia and Iran intervened to prevent the collapse of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who used chemical attacks, barrel bombs and starvation to crush what began as a peaceful insurgency. The conflict was just entering its eleventh year.

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Dealing with the war in Syria will test the Biden government’s determination to focus on Asia rather than the Middle East. If the United States reduces its presence, Russia and other hostile US rivals are ready to step in and bolster their regional stature and resources.

Lavrov stood by when the foreign minister of a Gulf state, generally friendly with Washington, the United Arab Emirates, delivered a message in line with Moscow’s position: blocking US sanctions against the Russian-backed Syrian regime international efforts to rebuild Syria. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said it was time to reassign Syria to the group of Arab nations.

In other words, Russia’s message is: « The Syrian war is over, Assad has won, Assad will be in power as long as he breathes oxygen, » said Frederic Hof, who acts as advisor and envoy for Syria in the US the Obama administration was operating.

Hof said there was an unspoken part of the message: Russia plans to be on hand when « Syria is built from the ashes », benefiting from international reconstruction resources and positioning itself as a broker to address security threats to deal with, which represents Syria in the region.

Hof and James F. Jeffrey, a professional diplomat under Republican and Democratic administration who served as US President Donald Trump’s envoy to Syria, advocate that the United States continue to have a significant presence in the United States, citing Russia’s ambitions Have land.

« If this is the Middle East’s security future, we’re all in trouble, » warns Jeffrey. « That is what Putin and Lavrov are promoting. »

The Biden administration is currently considering whether to consider Syria as one of America’s top national security problems.

There are no signs of this as yet. Particularly where US President Joe Biden has set some other Middle East issues as priorities – including the Yemen war and the Iranian nuclear program, for which Biden has appointed envoys – he and his officials have said and done little publicly about Syria .

In Congress, Syria is at the center of a Congressional debate on whether to reduce or end the powers granted to presidents to conduct military strikes after the 9/11 attacks.

It was the Syrian war that led this debate sparked when US President Barack Obama first considered military strikes, said Texas Democrat and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Joaquin Castro. « Congress has neglected some of the most important decisions a country can make. »

One of Biden’s few public mentions about Syria since he took office came last week when he listed it among international problems , on which the UN Security Council should do more.

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the start of the Syrian conflict last week, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken emphasized in a statement with European colleagues the need for humanitarian aid for Syrian civilians and the accountability for that Assad regime.

US troops help protect an opposition enclave in northeast Syria in an area that includes oil and natural gas. During Biden’s campaign last year, Blinken described the military role as a « lever » in negotiations on international dealings with Syria, rather than a continuous force Answer questions about Biden’s policy on Syria, including whether the government sees the Syrian conflict as a major national security threat or plans to appoint an envoy.

Biden follows Obama and Trump to the United States’ military role in the Middle East and shift the focus of US foreign policy to Asia, where China has become increasingly aggressive.

But the conflicts in the Middle East and the United States’ own strategic plans are pulling the Americans back.

Biden war Last month the sixth consecutive US president to bomb a Middle East target and an Iranian allied militia i n Syria, which attacked American and allied personnel in neighboring Iraq.

Some current and former US diplomats to the Middle East have argued that Syria is not a major security threat to the United States.

Robert S. Ford, an ambassador for the Obama administration to Syria with extensive diplomatic experience in the region, concluded in an article on foreign affairs last year that Washington should withdraw its troops from northeast Syria and deal with jihadists and Russia and others use US money to help refugees from the war.

But Hof and Jeffrey, two others who have dealt with Syria in previous administrations, are against withdrawing.

 » If I were a leader of ISIS who is now desperately trying to organize an insurrection to come back, « I said in Syria, » I would pray that this council would take place olgt, « said Hof. For the Islamic State Group: « If you can have the (Syrian) regime, the Iranians and the Russians as your enemies, it won’t get any better. »

A test of the Biden government’s intentions threatens as Russia tries its Mona Yacoubian, senior Syrian adviser to the think tank of the US Institute for Peace, observes using position in the UN Security Council to block a humanitarian aid route into a part of Syria that is not under the control of the Russian-backed Syrian government / p> According to Yacoubian, it will be important to maintain or strengthen the US footprint in Syria – not only as a lever in political negotiations, but also to determine the rules of the game for Russia’s presence in the Middle East. And other immediate goals for the international community remain: to make life « more manageable and less miserable for Syrians, » she said.

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