On Bombing Syria

On Bombing Syria

By Zenonas Tziarras

The United Kingdom and Germany have been the latest powers to join the war in Syria though Germany’s contribution will be in ground forces and aerial reconnaissance operations. The UK’s decision has stirred up a heated debate about whether this is the right line of action that should be followed from London, or any other country for that matter.

International bombing operations in Syria have been taking place at least since September 2014 in the context of the Western anti-ISIS “Coalition of the Willing” led by the United States. States like the U.S., France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar, Germany and the UK are participating in one way or another in this coalition. On the other end, Russia and the Syrian regime are also conducting large scale military operations. (See map below)

zones in syria

Source: geopolitical-info.com

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Russia in Syria: Changing the Power Balances

Russia in Syria: Changing the Power Balances

By Zenonas Tziarras

Back in 2012 it was argued that Syria has become an arena for conflicting regional and international interests [1]. This reality is more salient today than any other time in the past. After reports that Turkey,[2] Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other countries of the region have mingled in Syria’s conflict through their support to militia groups, we saw the United States using Special Forces for raids into Syria. Not long after that we witnessed Russia moving military forces into Syria, particularly close to the city of Latakia, where a key air base is located, even as reports came out that China will send military advisers to Syria in order to help in the fight against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham). Most importantly, on September 30, Russia launched its first airstrikes against Jihadist groups in Syria.

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Turkey and Saudis in Syria: Aligned Interests, Clashing Revisionisms

Turkey and Saudis in Syria: Aligned Interests, Clashing Revisionisms

by Zenonas Tziarras

In early May, 2015 it became known that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are supporting extremist Islamist groups in Syria against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. That Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, among others, have – mostly indirectly – been supporting Islamist groups is not news as similar reports have been emerging from time to time since 2011, if not earlier. But this policy with regard to the Syrian conflict became increasingly overt amidst growing instability and lack of Western commitment to Assad’s overthrow. According to The Independent and other media, Turkish and Saudi support focuses on the overarching jihadist group Jaish al-Fatah which includes al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra – a rival to both Assad and the self-styled “Islamic State,” also known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham).

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Turkey’s Revisionism in the Eastern Mediterranean (Part II)

Turkey’s Revisionism in the Eastern Mediterranean (Part II)

By Zenonas Tziarras

Source: Today’s Zaman

Part I: Turkey in the Middle East: The Tacit Revisionist

In the previous article, it was argued that Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East “is obviously, yet tacitly, revisionist.” Specifically, examples such as the Syrian civil war were employed to highlight Turkey’s revisionist goals (i.e. regime change) and its efforts to rely on great powers (U.S. and NATO) in order to achieve them without getting too much involved. Continue reading

The Geopolitical Impact of ISIS: Actors, Factors, and Balances of Power in the Middle East

The Geopolitical Impact of ISIS: Actors, Factors, and Balances of Power in the Middle East

by Zenonas Tziarras

The ISIS Threat

Generally speaking, the emergence of ISIS has posed a significant security threat to regional and international states alike; a threat which challenges the stability and territorial integrity of regional states as well as Western regional interests. As known from International Relations and particularly Realism literature, (mutual) security threats are one of the most important factors in the formation of different kinds of alliances. As such, it is without surprise that we see unlike partnerships to emerge, such as the ones mentioned below.

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Power Struggle over Ukraine: Systemic Observations

Power Struggle over Ukraine: Systemic Observations

By Zenonas Tziarras

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The Syrian civil war and now Ukraine. These are only two examples of crises over which the United States and Russia have bumped heads recently. Some might be tempted to call this a “new Cold War,” but it’s really not. Yes, the geopolitical competition and power struggle might be obvious and similar. And even the race for maximizing the spheres of influence. But the ideological context is different and therefore there is no clash of politico-economic systems, not to mention that calling the current international system “bipolar” is simplistic, to say the least. What we have now is a primarily intra-systemic, capitalist, geo-economic competition fueled and exacerbated by identity politics, history and national security considerations. Continue reading

The Hegemony of Money

The Hegemony of Money

By Zenonas Tziarras

A few days ago, Jon Steward hosted Mrs. Nancy Pelosi, a United States Congresswoman from the Democratic Party, to discuss with her American politics under the Obama administration. Her admissions and comments were very interesting as well as revealing about the nature not only of American economy and politics but also of the international political and economic system.

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Turkey’s Imbalances and Identity Crisis

Turkey’s Imbalances and Identity Crisis

By Zenonas Tziarras

It was June, 2013. I arrived in Ankara, Turkey, right on time to witness the development of the protests that began at Istanbul’s Gezi Park and spread throughout the country’s urban centers, as well as to experience and participate in the social and political discussion that was taking place at that time. The purpose of my visit included the participation in a conference on Turkish foreign policy and some field research. That gave me the opportunity to speak and exchange views with students of International Relations, academics, experts, and diplomats. Continue reading

Something is Happening in the MidEast and the EastMed

Something is Happening in the MidEast and the EastMed

By Zenonas Tziarras

Something is definitely happening at the geopolitical intersection of the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. Rapid, crucial, and very much interlinked, developments at the same juncture cannot be coincidences. Here is some of the developments and their geopolitical impact, although only time can reveal the true and complete pattern.

In Turkey, apart from the discussion about the new constitution, the country is going through an historic period as the decades-long conflict between the state and the Kurdish separatist movement, led by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), seems to be coming to an end. The imprisoned Kurdish leader has called for a ceasefire and ordered the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from Turkish soil. Continue reading

“Battle For Syria: View from the Frontline” – An Alternative Perspective

“Battle For Syria: View from the Frontline” – An Alternative Perspective

By Zenonas Tziarras

“This is not a revolution. They are terrorists who live in America, France, in Istanbul.” – Syrian civilian[1]

“Battle for Syria: View from the Frontline” is a mini documentary filmed by the Russian POCCИЯ 24 TV channel. What is particularly interesting about this documentary is that it was filmed in the battle fields of Syria, following the forces of the Syrian (regime) army around. Thus, the whole project offers an entirely different perspective on the Syrian conflict from the one the western media present – both in terms of the actual conflict and the not so projected view of the regime. Throughout the documentary one can realize that certain features stand out as they are being emphasized: 1) the military tactics of the Free Syrian Army (i.e. rebels); the struggle of the Syrian Army (i.e. regime) as a counter-terrorism campaign; and the composition of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Continue reading