The Consequences of Russia’s Bombing Campaign in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin, April 9, 2015Under the guise of fighting terrorism to protect itself and save the ruthless government of Bashar-al-Assad, Russian warplanes on Thursday conducted a second day of airstrikes in Syria, allegedly targeting not the Islamic State but rival rebel groups.

By targeting rival insurgent groups to the Islamic State, the terrorist group also known as ISIS, foreign policy experts say Russia is complicating a Syrian conflict that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and a surge of refugees….

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Russia for failing to communicate the details of their mission.

Putin and Obama met at the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week to talk about the fight against ISIS and the Syrian conflict, but presumably, the Russian leader said nothing of his bombing mission.

“By supporting Assad and seemingly taking on everybody fighting Assad,” Carter said, Russia is “taking on the whole rest of the country that’s fighting Assad.”

“That’s why the Russian position is doomed to fail,” Carter added.Kerry, meanwhile, said the U.S. would explore “options” to solve the conflict.

Even so, some believe the Obama administration could have done more to prevent the Russian advance in the first place.

We could have stopped this deployment in Syria,” said Jorge Benitez, a senior fellow in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.

“We do have a partnership with the government of Iraq, whose airspace Russia used to move weapons and aircraft. We could have played a stronger negotiating role to try and prevent that, but so far this administration has not been successful in persuading Baghdad to stop it.”

In fact, this past weekend, Iraq joined Russia, Iran, and Syria in a new agreement to strengthen cooperation against ISIS, in another move orchestrated by Putin to rival the U.S. for influence in the region.

Related Experts: Jorge Benitez

Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin, April 9, 2015 (photo: Office of the President of Russia)