The U.S.'s 'Ostrich Policy' in Syria - YASIN AKTAY

The U.S.'s 'Ostrich Policy' in Syria

This happened too. Russian warplanes started to strike the Syrian opposition's training camps with the excuse of bombing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's (ISIL) – also known as DAESH – training camps. According to the news or allegations received, while they were at it, using this as an excuse, Russian aircraft bombed the Turkmen and Arab areas of settlement as well. This development, signals, without a doubt, that a new stage has been reached in the Syria crisis, which has been ongoing for about five years now.

It can actually be said that with certain risky steps it has taken in recent years, Russia has entered a new period not only in Syria, but also in international affairs. NATO and Western countries, which remain silent in the face of Russia, disregarding Georgia's territorial integrity, were stunned when Russia annexed Crimea. However, Ukraine's future was obvious from Georgia.

As the allegations that Russia took over control of the radar systems, anti-aircraft systems in Syria, that it built military bases and is in efforts to settle into Syria – the recent hot topic of discussion in the transatlantic world – are confirmed, we are witnessing “certain high-level officials” from the Pentagon make concerned statements.

Turkey, which has criticized that Western allies are following a passive and hesitant foreign policy regarding Syria as a member of the Western alliance, and in the event policies continue as is, it might give rise to situations that may endanger the Western alliance in Syria as well as international peace and security, is unfortunately and once more about to be proven right.

The truth is that the U.S. administration is in a great deadlock in its Middle East policies and particularly in its Syria policy. Apparently, it has an operation under the name of war against ISIL. But ISIL being announced as the apparent target of all those against one another and, in fact, of those at war with each other shows that ISIL has become a field of war never before seen in history. ISIL has become a fact that needs to be given another name as an enemy, a target attacked by all enemies who do not want to go against one another. But for the U.S. it is very clear, that fighting ISIL is a way for it to avoid responsibility in Syria. Because everybody knows now, the source of the problem in Syria is not ISIL, but Bashar Assad's regime. ISIL is the direct result of this regime.

Those in the U.S. who are criticizing the Obama administration's policy, which avoids taking any responsibility in the Middle East, are confusing Obama with Gorbachev, who managed the break up process of the Soviet Union.

Whereas Obama's political choices are more reminiscent of the choices of Neville Chamberlain, who was the U.K.'s president just before World War II, rather than that of Gorbachev. Chamberlain is not remembered in a very positive light in circles familiar with political history. The reason for this is that Chamberlain accepted the revisionist policies of Germany, which tried to break Versailles's chains before World War II with “Appeasement.” While Chamberlain thought Germany could become a little more balanced if some of its “brattiness” is tolerated, World War II erupted and Chamberlain's policy ended with a fiasco.

Frankly, Obama's policies aimed at Russia are similar to Chamberlain's Appeasement Policies, which also seem due to yield similar results. Segments in the U.S. criticizing Obama's policies have already given a similar name to these policies: The Ostrich Policy.

The Obama administration continues to bury its head in the sand, claiming that there is no problem in Syria, or the problem in question is not as great as it is thought to be. However, with Obama's “Ostrich Policy,” Syria has turned into a complete circle of fire both in terms of Syrians and the international community. This is because the U.S., which has buried its head in the sand at the time of risk, like an ostrich, feels the rest of it is also safe.

At the point reached, Russia, which has, for the first time after the Cold War, gained the chance to be directly included in the processes in the Middle East so strongly, seems to have built a sort of mandate in Syria.

We should mention that history will not forget that Russia, which at one point attempted to take action in efforts to produce an anti-West discourse, which claimed that the international system and its institutions have turned into tools that impose the forms of domination of the Western world, is using it in a more ruthless way than the Western world it criticized. Actually, Russia's efforts to turn Syria into a dominion are a clear and great indication that all levels of macro discourse in international affairs are hiding the desire to dominate.

Iran's attitude during this process is even more interesting. We are watching closely as Iran, which sat at the negotiation table with Western countries – which it accused of trying to collapse its regime in nuclear talks that turned into a matter of honor for it – and found a common point with them, is uncompromising and in fact is siding with the West on Syria, which has become a matter of honor for Muslims.

It is clear as day that a solution and stability in Syria is not possible with Assad. Insisting on Assad despite this requires accepting long lasting instability in the region. In fact, this persistence gives the impression that the sustainable order desired for this region is exactly this civil war order. Neither Russia nor Iran nor certain actors in the region have any complaints about this disorder. They have no objectives such as stopping the bloodshed, bringing stability to the region and peace to the people. They think this has no cost for them, but in the medium and long term, the cost of this politics is heavy for all.

On the other hand, the U.S. administration, which has once more backtracked in the face of the impositions of Russia and Iran, and which has expressed its demand – even if in a low voice – to bring Assad to the negotiation table, needs to remember at once the grave experience Chamberlain left behind, for the future of both Syria and the international community.


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