BERIL – A new and a difficult year

A new and a difficult year2014 has been a difficult year, and there is little reason to believe that 2015 will be better The presidential election is approaching in the United States, and andquothawksandquot seem closer to the White House with every passing day. We donand#39t know yet how Russia will respond to the economic sanctions imposed by the West because of the crisis in Ukraine.

Russiaand#39s most precious trump card was Crimea and Moscow has already used it, and Western powers will probably continue to punish Russia because of the latterand#39s stance towards the crises in Syria and Ukraine.As a matter of fact, the United States isnand#39t totally against Russia having some kind of influence in determining the future of Syria and Ukraine what the US doesnand#39t want is Russia developing special ties with a number of European countries.

Washingtonand#39s main purpose is to cut Russiaand#39s privileged relations with some prominent members of the EU.The US doesnand#39t really care about Ukraineand#39s division or about Russia having a number of military bases in Syria Anyway, the US should consider itself lucky that Russia is actually playing a very open game.

Moscow uses classic power politics and announces every future step before acting. So, nobody can accuse President Vladimir Putinand#39s Russia of having secret plans or a hidden agenda Thatand#39s why the United States doesnand#39t need to develop obscure schemes, either Both Russia and the US would prefer a predictable status quo for the international system The problem is they ignore how European powers will react to this status quo.

For now, European powers use every imaginable tool to have a say about the futures of Ukraine and Syria and they are quite unhappy with the fact that Russia and the US intend to deal with these problems on a bilateral basis.Russia has made known that it is not obsessed by the survival of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and that it can accept its fall under certain conditions.

Besides, Russia — along with the US — accepts the idea of Turkey having some influence about the future political design of Syria In fact, including Turkey in the equation may be a way of including moderate Islamists in Syriaand#39s transition and be an easier way to rebuild the Syrian economy. If the US and Russia manage to find a compromise about ending the Syrian civil war, those third-party states who directly or indirectly support local armed groups (including Kurdish ones or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [ISIL]) will have to leave the game.

This is not something they will accept easily.One has to find a way to connect Syria to the US through Turkey without damaging Russiaand#39s interests too much by including Kurds in the countryand#39s political life and by destroying ISIL.

This is, in a way, a repetition of the andquotIraqi model.andrdquo The main problem is to find the way to neutralize ISIL because as a reaction, this bloody terrorist organization may very well attack directly all the countries of the region.

Besides, there are countries which are against finding a compromise over Syria and these will not hesitate to use ISIL to sabotage any agreement.These powers may provoke diverse ethnic and religious groups in the region and thus try to put pressure on the governments in those countries.

This is, of course, not a sustainable policy because nobody can win in the long term by provoking an unpredictable and dangerous chain reaction. They may, for example, try to push Turkey into trouble in order to foment more chaos in the region.

If, for example, Turkey is pulled towards Syria by use of the ISIL threat, a number of countries may promptly propose to save Turkey from trouble. There is a rule in international relations: The country which proposes to save you is the one which provoked the trouble you are in in the first place.

Nevertheless, a chaotic Turkey would make it impossible for Russia and the US to find a compromise over Syria because if Turkey is pushed away from the equation, a number of other countries — especially European ones — will benefit from this vacuumIn brief, there is still a lack of consensus between the systemand#39s main players about the international systemand#39s future. That means more bloodshed is to be expected.

All this is, of course, not a reason for not hoping. I wish you all a happy new year.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman