Russia has long been frustrated with the illegal US bombings and occupation of Syria. During the Obama years, things became bitterly tense, as one of the proximate causes for Russia’s agreement to assist its old Syrian ally in her hour of need, was due to the fact that the US had fomented the conflict in the first place.
When Donald Trump came to power, Russian diplomats softened their tone vis-a-vis the US, as during the campaign, Trump had vowed to work with Russia in helping to bring peace to Syria – and crucially one that was not openly hostile to the legitimate Syrian government.
Beginning with Donald Trump’s missile attack on Syria’s Shayrat Air Field in April of 2017, Russia began to realise that the US policy of hostility towards Syria and sympathy with Syria’s barbarous non-state opponents had not changed. In 2018, Russian diplomats are therefore becoming increasingly frank in rejecting any US role in Syria’s war or Syria’s peace.
Yesterday, during a closed session of the UN Security Council, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya said,
“I ask them to remember that they (the US) are in fact illegally in Syria, nobody invited them there, they constantly assert that they are fighting international terrorism, but we see that they go beyond this framework”.
This comes as the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying,
“The illegal armed presence of the United States on the territory of Syria remains a serious challenge to the advancement of peace in Syria and the preservation of its unity and territorial integrity.
In the south of this state, the existence of a 55-kilometer zone unilaterally created by the Americans around their military base in the vicinity of the village of Et-Tanf is used by the remains of the Igilovites, who are able to hide in this vast area from the persecution of Syrian government forces, regroup and arm for new sorties in Syrian desert. The Igilovites, who feel themselves at ease in the area of Al-Tanf, in the past repeatedly made distant raids up to the border of the province of Aleppo. The safety of a number of transport arteries is still under threat. The road that connects Damascus with Baghdad, is still blocked by the Americans.
The emerging situation shows, according to Russian estimates, that the state of instability in Syria is largely artificially maintained. Some influential external players clearly do not use the opportunities they have to promote a political settlement in Syria and the final elimination of terrorists on Syrian soil. Instead, there are continuing attempts to implement in Syria, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, geopolitical plans that are clearly at variance with the Syrian people’s will expressly expressed during the Congress of the Syrian national dialogue by the will of the Syrian people to live in harmony in a single and sovereign country”.
In summary, over the last few days and weeks, Russia has come out and plainly stated the following four key facts about the US Presence in Syria
1. The US military presence in Syria is illegal according to the letter of international law.
2. The US military presence in Syria is counterproductive as it inhibits the ability of Syria’s partners to destroy terrorists.
3. The US seeks to divide/partition the country, using its Kurdish proxies as the pawns in order to achieve this, all the while antagonising Turkey in the process.
4. The US is not concerned with peace but simply wants to get its hands on Syria’s resources, including oil.
While there is nothing novel about these factual statements, the fact that Russia has become bolder in articulating these facts, demonstrates that Russia has fully given up on the prospect of even remote levels of cooperation with the US in the region.
While Russia’s patience with a Turkish Republic that in 2015 was on the verge of war with Moscow has paid off exponentially – leading to Turkey becoming a valued Russian partner, no such thing is going to transpire between Russia and the United States.
While Turkey has come to embrace its regional role as a leading Eurasian power that is able to engage in multipolar partnerships with Ottoman characteristics, for the United States, it is business as usual with the added element of even more amplified hysteria, due to the fact that many in Washington realise that the level of influence the US is able to exert over the wider world is shrinking.
Thus we see that while all the state parties to the Syria conflict have unique positions, with the exception of “Israel” all of the others, including Russia have a goal of removing the US from its illegal occupation of Syrian soil. This long standing reality is now beyond any shadow of doubt.