Difficult for US and Russia to work together in Syria

China Military
Yao Jianing

BEIJING, Jan. 6 (ChinaMil) -- The US President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly talked about the Syrian conflict and his opinions are largely different than that of President Obama. Trump said he will seek an end to the Syrian civil war as soon as possible and focus on purging the extremist group ISIS, and also work with Russia on the Syrian conflict. But Trump also faces many problems.

Trump’s remarks on Syria during the campaign indeed brought some possibilities for the US-Russian cooperation. He said that after the election, he will abandon the common practice pursued by the US, which is, the policy of subversion of other countries' political power. This is interpreted by the US media as the tolerance of the existence of the Bashar regime.

In addition, Trump also proposed to remove terrorists and their regional and international networks from the Earth. Some US media have speculated that Trump will not only cooperate with Russia, but also treat the Syrian government as an ally in anti-terrorism operations and therefore he will cut or even stop the support for Syrian opposition forces.

If the US and Russia can really work together in Syria and their purpose is to quell the Syrian civil war and fight against terrorism, then this will create an unprecedented joint resolution of the Middle East issue. This will help ease the situation in Syria and the Middle East as a whole and also help the international community to combat terrorist forces.

At present, the US public opinion generally believes that Obama's Syrian policy is one of the biggest foreign policy failures and therefore it is imperative for the new president to adjust it.

On one hand, many US media have accused Obama of being soft on cracking down radical organizations in Syria and as a result, such organizations continue to cause troubles Syria. On the other hand, some US hardline media criticized Obama of not taking decisive actions on the Bashar regime through the chemical weapon issue, nor did he provide sufficient support to Syrian rebels.

During the US election campaign, Trump also took the Obama administration's policy on Syria, and provided very different policy. However, whether electoral language can be translated into practical action still remains a question. Therefore, it is still unclear to what extent the US and Russia can work together in Syria.

First, with the development of the Syrian war, the US and Russia are competing against each other in the Middle East. Is Trump, who vowed to make America great again, willing to give up the Middle East and hand the region over to Russia?

Second, even if Trump agrees to cooperate with Russia on the Syrian issue, then who will dominate? Russian president Vladimir Putin, known for his tougher characters, is unlikely to hand over the Syrian issue to the US. In this case, is the US willing to work with Russia under Russian dominance?

Third, when the Syrian civil war was in the most intense stage, the Western politics and media tried their best to stigmatize Russia and the Syrian government in the last two years. They claimed that both sides committed war crimes in the Syrian civil war and accused Russia of interfering in the US presidential election. Can Trump easily change the negative impression on the Russian and Syrian governments?

Finally, there is a profound contradiction between the Arabic countries in the Gulf region and Russia on the Syrian issue. Will these countries abandon their demands for Bashar to step down and end support for the Syrian rebels? In addition, Trump proposed to establish a safe area in Syria in order to stop the Syrian civil war and the Gulf countries will bear the cost. But, are these Gulf countries willing to pay for that?

Trump must solve these difficult problems before adjusting the Syrian policy. Therefore, even if Trump really wants to work with Russia in Syria, the process will not be smooth.

The author is Shao Jie from the Xinhua News Agency.

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