The civil war that has rolled through Syria over the past seven years has resulted in a massive humanitarian crisis. Additionally, terrorist groups, including ISIS, have taken root. The result is that there are multiple groups fighting in Syria, all with different objectives. The rebels in Syria want Assad out of the government, while Assad receives support from Russia and Iran to continue to hold onto Syria.
It was no surprise that the two countries ignored warnings from U.S. and expressed support for the latest plan to retake Idlib. Iranian media also quoted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif noting that Idlib should be under the control of the Syrian people.
“Frankly speaking, I don’t think there’s anything the United States can do about it. I think Russia and the Syrian government, and their allies are dead-set on taking over Idlib, either in a phased way or in an all-out massive invasion,” said David Lesch, a history professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
Tensions between U.S. and Iran continue to mount
In the meantime, the U.S. and Iran are locked in a struggle over sanctions, as the U.S. renews sanctions waived by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which it withdrew from in May. Those sanctions, particularly the ones against the Iranian oil industry, are due to take affect on November 5. The Iranian oil industry has already seen a drop in oil exports during August and more drops are anticipated.
Therefore, it is not surprising that U.S. President Donald Trump has actively looked for areas to engage with the Iranian regime, even if it is not the most positive interactions. After threats last week from Iran regarding the Strait of Hormuz and announcements by Assad’s government and other organizations that Assad appears to be gearing up to retake Idlib Province from the rebels, Trump tweeted on Monday that Iran and Russia would be “making a grave humanitarian mistake” by taking part in Assad’s plans. He encouraged both countries to intervene in behalf of the Syrians living in Idlib.
Russia continues to defy U.S.
The Trump administration has not been affective in altering Russia’s course of action, as Russian air strikes resumed against insurgents and rebels in Idlib province on Tuesday. Moscow claimed that it was a nest of terrorists and that the warnings by the U.S. were made without taking in the whole situation in Syria.
Throughout his time in office, President Trump has attempted to improve relations between the U.S. and Russia but have been unable to curb their support of Assad’s government. Assad has sworn to recapture all of Syria and the political process through the U.N. has resulted in limited progress.
Assad’s government has made significant progress in achieving this goal since Russia added its support in 2015. The Russian government also provides a shield for Assad in the U.N., thus helping his government to avoid serious sanctions or hardline demands by the international community.