As the relationship between Russia and the U.S. worsens, Syria and its people continue to suffer in a war-torn environment.
The blame game has been in full force after the end of Syria’s short-lived ceasefire. The U.S. has been quick to blame Russia for its abrupt end, pointing to the tragic bombing of a UN medical convoy, which destroyed supplies that would have helped thousands. Russia continues to deny any hand in the bombing.
Daniel Bennett, professor of political science at John Brown University, calls this a he said/she said argument that will continue between the two countries. “There needs to be trust, a give and take relationship, and there isn’t one here.”
The U.S. offers support to moderate rebels who have been working towards toppling Syrian president Bashar al-Assad only adds tension to the situation.
Bennett sees little to no hope in another ceasefire working after this. “It really just boils down to each party having an incentive to maintain a ceasefire and neither really do,” he said.
The U.S. and Russia have different reasons for entering Syria. Russia’s ties with Assad are the source to their interest in the country. Robert Moore, professor of history at John Brown University, highlighted this point.
“Russia has had a long term relationship with Assad. They’ve had a military base there for a long time, so they’ve been strategic partners. When Assad’s government started teetering during the revolution, Russia came in and offered military support.”
When the U.S. was faced with the terror of ISIS in 2014, it entered itself in the conflict.
David Vila, professor of philosophy and religion at JBU, explained that both countries have problems with ISIS and want Syria to find peace and stability, but the answer to these problems is very different for each.
“The U.S. wants to go in there and over throw Assad and set up a republican democracy like we have in the West. Russia is not supportive of that. They see Assad as a legitimate claim to rule.” Vila said. The U.S. previously asked Assad to step down from power, a request that he has thus far refused.
The Syrian Regime, Bennett said, “Will probably just drag it out until the rebels decide it’s not worth it anymore and give up and flee to another country.”
In the middle of this conflict, the people of Syria suffer the most.
Spencer Allen, professor at King Fahd Center for Middle East at the University of Arkansas, sympathized with the Syrian civilians. “I don’t know how they’ve survived in some of these places as long as they have, honestly. Half the country have left their homes.”
Vila hopes that, for the sake of the people, Russia and the U.S. will be willing to compromise. “What it really comes down to, is the U.S. willing to give up its desire for imposing democracy and is Russia willing to give up supporting dictator of the region.”
Moore said the only answer to ending the suffering in Syria is an immediate ceasefire. “It has to be meaningful so we can get relief in and some kind of stability so that people can rebuild their lives. The fighting has to end.”
“At this time, we really need to be human about this and help. I can’t imagine having to live there, I have no idea how one can survive there,” said Allen.