The war in Syria has always been totally unnecessary, but in spite of this, due to its protracted length, it becomes inevitable that ‘winners and losers’ will be named. While there are no clear winners, in so far as no one faction has fully realised its goals and in the short term, few will likely achieve them. There is, however, one outstanding loser.
The various “winners”
For Syria, a full victory would mean liberating every inch of Syrian territory, forcing the total withdrawal of the US and Turkey and disarming all Takfiri and Kurdish terrorist groups. Because Russia seeks to reach a kind of compromise with forces opposing such a settlement via the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, such a victory might only be achieved in a “post-post war environment”.
While Russia has been Syria’s most powerful and influential ally, Iran has been Syria’s most consistent ally. Consequently, Iran would like to see Syria liberate every inch of its territory with the added benefit of an increased peaceful Iranian presence in the country after the war. Because Russia is unwilling to tell “Israel” that it can effectively ‘go to hell’ in respect of its desire to illegally harass Iranian advisers in Syria, Iran too has fallen short of its penultimate goal.
Turkey’s initial goal was to illegally overthrow the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic and install a Muslim Brotherhood style regime. Today, Turkey’s goal is limited to carving out either a semi-permanent presence in northern Syria and barring that, Turkey seeks to liquidate the Kurdish terror group PYG/PKK before taking a seat as a joint mediator in the ongoing Astana Process.
Russia’s goals are the most complex of any power. Russia initially sought merely to help her traditional Syrian ally fight terrorism, but in the process, Russia has gone through a kind of on-the-spot metaphysical self-discovery process during which Russia has realised that the US has become a greater enemy to Moscow than it was prior to Russia’s full legal intervention. Throughout this process, Russia has managed to turn Turkey from an adversary into a valued partner, all the while preserving (and in some ways strengthening) the Russian partnership with Iran.
Today, Russia seeks to help orchestrate a political settlement which preserves Syria’s political integrity and territorial unity, but one that will necessarily involve the participation of the so-called “opposition”. In reality, President al-Assad will almost certainly remain in power as part of such a settlement, but certain political concessions may have to be made, according to Russian diplomats. This process however is ultimately fluid and because Russia has assured its military presence in Syria for at least the next 49 years, there is no realistic chance that Russia would force too many concessions on the Syrian government.
Taken together, most of these countries have got at least some of what they wanted. While Turkey has had to modify its goals more radically than any of the other aforementioned powers, through partially normalising its presence in Syria via the Astana Memoranda and likewise by effectively getting the Russian green light for its anti-Kurdish terrorist operation, Turkey can still carve out a diplomatic and security victory so long as it accepts the limitations of its new position in the conflict.
—“Israel”, neither a winner nor loser.
The Zionist regime sought to not only overthrow the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic, but to effectively oversee a salting of Syrian earth, so that the country could never again be in a position to stand up to Zionist aggression and ultimately hand over the illegally occupied Golan Heights to the Zionist regime. This has luckily not come to pass. While this might seem like a loss, Russia and Iran have not overtly stood up to Israel’s brazen illegal acts of aggression against Syria, which have only increased through the conflict. Thus, Tel Aviv still displays the confidence to continue bullying Syria, with its customary disregard for international law and ethical norms.
–The Biggest Loser: The USA
The USA has gone from one humiliating defeat in Syria to another. Firstly, in the early years of the US authored conflict, what was supposed to be a rapid ‘regime change’ war in the style of Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, turned into a protracted conflict due to the unity of the Syrian Arab Army, along with the aid of Iranian advisers and the Lebanese Islamic Resistance Hezbollah.
Beginning in 2015, when Russia became fully involved in the conflict, it became clear that there would be no regime change whatsoever. By 2017 it became self-evident that attempts to turn parts of Syria into a Takfiri dictatorial theocracy were futile as Syria and her allies, including the increased presence of Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Units, had scored substantial victories against remaining Takfiri groups. Once this reality became clear, the US shifted their goal to the creation of a semi-permanently occupied Kurdish statelet in northern and parts of eastern Syria.
As Turkey and the US now continue to fight via their proxy forces for what remains of occupied northern Syrian territory, the two NATO members have gone from allies to rivals in the conflict. The US is effectively boxed into a corner, having to choose between its Kurdish terrorist proxies and keeping Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, placated. This balancing act appears to be something that the US is not capable of achieving.
The phone conversation that Presidents Erdogan and Trump recently conducted was described as a “limited exchange of views”, which in diplomatic circles is indicative of a conversation where the two parties could not and would not attempt to see eye-to-eye. Furthermore, while the White House claimed that Trump urged Turkey to restrain itself in conducting strikes against Kurdish YPG targets, according to Turkey, Trump once again promised to cease arming the Kurds. Nevertheless, Turkey seems to no longer believe such promises, assuming they were even made.
Moreover, US military spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon has stated, “The coalition (aka almost exclusively American) forces that are in that area, have an inherent right to defend themselves and will do so if necessary”. This statement is the clearest indication yet that the US diplomatic efforts to reach some compromise with Turkey have utterly failed and the the US is running scared from the fact that Turkish troops and their proxies may soon be encroaching the US-YPG bases in the northern Syrian areas around Manbij.
In having to warn a fellow NATO member that the US may have to fire upon Turkey or their proxies in “self-defence”, the US has admitted not only that its goal of creating a Kurdish statelet in northern Syria is effectively over, but that at the same time the US and a fellow NATO member may engage in combat against one another. Is is quite simply, the worst of both worlds so far as the United States is concerned. A US protectorate statelet in Syria is essentially off the table and two NATO “allies” are threatening to shoot at one another.
While the US has already lost its war on Syria, the continued illegal American occupation in parts of Syria still poses a grave danger to regional stability. At the moment, the only thing restraining the US against Syria is the presence of Russia, while the only thing restraining the US against Turkey is a desire to preserve the NATO alliance in its present composition. If the US wanted to start a new and even more catastrophic war in Syria, it could still potentially do so. That being said, events on the ground are causing the US to lose what little direction it had in the conflict. When all is said and done, for the people of Syria, the war has been a US authored nightmare in a country that was placid and prosperous in 2011. For the US, it is just another military disaster that encapsulates its status as a decaying superpower incapable of managed decline.