The Syrian dilemma: who’s fighting whom and why?

The Syrian dilemma: who’s fighting whom and why?

By Claude Salhani - Trend:

Reports emanating from the front lines in the ever-expanding Syrian civil war are as confusing as ever. Who should we believe and whom should we doubt? Nearly four years into the war and still no end in sight, rather, the conflict is turning deadlier and more complex as supposed allies are aiding the friend's foes and fighting their friend's friends.

In short, there are no simple answers and the deeper we dig the more convoluted the situation appears.

Are we to believe the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, responsible for the deaths of some 300,000 people, for the destruction of a multitude of Syrian cities and for turning more than two million of his fellow citizens into refugees? Are we to believe a regime that has used terror and torture against its own citizens? Are we to believe a regime that uses rape as a tool to intimidate its citizens?

Or should instead we place more trust in that not so merry group of land pirates and associated psychopaths that have taken over swaths of territories in Syria and neighboring Iraq and who do not hesitate to behead or crucify anyone they may disagree with.

Are the United States, the European Union and NATO more credible amid reports that weapons went to both the parties the US is actively fighting and to those it is allied with? The war in Syria has been raging for almost four years and the Obama administration still didn't have a coherent policy on how to deal with the situation until a few weeks ago?

Or should be believe Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries who are on the one hand supporting the Islamic State, giving them weapons and money and on the other hand, sending their war planes to help fight them?

Or perhaps we should believe Turkey, who Islamist president has been accused by fellow Turks and foreign diplomats of not so discreetly aiding the IS by allowing arms, munitions and recruits to openly transit through Turkey on their way to the battlefront.

Why are the lines so blurred? Politics are often confusing but here we have Levantine politics superimposed on Middle East policymaking with a twist of US and European meddling.

Indeed, what makes it complex is the fact that in this conflict there are so many sides with so many different faction and alliances that crisscross the alliance grid multiple times.

Take Turkey's role in this conflict, for example: Turkey is a US ally, a member of NATO and presumably pro-West. Yet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused of leaning in favor of the IS, a sworn enemy of the US.

The way Turkey sees this is simple: Turkey wants to see Assad deposed, so does the IS. Turkey is wary of the Kurds, and the IS is fighting them. So, why not let IS do all the dirty work, policies can always be reversed.

However, the complication arises when Turkey's allies in the West become irritated by Ankara's antics.

There are more crossed lines as Turkey in an effort to have better relations with Iran, in what Ankara calls a policy of zero problems with neighbors, has shared sensitive intelligence with Iran. Make that US intelligence. Problem: Iran supports Bashar Assad. Confusing? You bet and we are only skimming the top layer.

Claude Salhani is a senior editor with Trend Agency and a specialist on Middle East and terrorism affairs. You can follow Claude on Twitter @claudesalhani.

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