The world once again was taken to the brink of World War 3 Monday night, and the situation is still extremely dangerous. A massive wide-ranging assault on multiple Syrian provinces, including the coastal cities of Latakia and Tartus, occurred Monday evening reportedly by Israel and possibly with the help of France or the US, though the Pentagon is denying any US assistance during the assault.
With Syrian and Russian air defenses responding during the over hour-long attack which targeted among other things an alleged chemical weapons research center, and in the confusion of missiles cross the sky, a Russian maritime patrol plane was shot down with 14 personnel on board. The Pentagon is claiming it was Syrian defense which “accidentally” downed the plane, while Russia is pointing out its radar observed a French frigate firing in the area just before the plane went down.
Regardless, this is an incredibly dangerous situation which puts world powers closer to major war. And crucially, the whole event came immediately after Russia and Turkey announced they’ve agreed to establish a “demilitarized zone” around Idlib.
The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced just hours before the reported Israeli attack was initiated that Russia and Turkey have agreed to establish a 15-20km demilitarized zone along Syrian government positions.
This means the widely reported Syrian-Russian offensive is off for the time being, according to the Russian MoD.
But this raises the following questions given the timing of Monday’s night’s escalation: with Putin negotiating for a ‘world power deescalation’ over Idlib after the US threatened attack, was Monday’s attack part of an Israeli (and Western allies) strategy for keeping regime change in Damascus on the table? Why escalate now?
— Danny Makki (@Dannymakkisyria) September 17, 2018
This at the very least appears a conscious effort to keep the fires burning in Syria, to prevent Putin from being in the driver’s seat, and to continue to provoke hostilities with the Tehran-Damascus axis, and to further keep alive the possibility of the eventual military ouster of Assad.