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20 Jun, 2017 15:06

More coalition forces could ‘reconsider their participation’ in US-led Syrian gamble

More coalition forces could ‘reconsider their participation’ in US-led Syrian gamble

Australians fear they may be collateral victims should Russia and the US clash over Syria; this might drive other coalition members to reconsider, afraid the US may draw them into a conflict, explains Dr. Jamal Wakeem of the Lebanese University in Beirut.

Australia has suspended airstrikes as part of the US-led coalition effort in Syria amid a militarized row between Russia and Washington.

RT discussed Australia's airstrike suspension with Jamal Wakeem, professor of history and international relations at the Lebanese University in Beirut.

RT: Do you think Washington's actions in Syria are putting its coalition partners at risk?

Jamal Wakeem: I believe so because the US is pushing hard not to lose ground in Syria especially when the Syrian forces are expanding their control over Syrian territory and they were also able to reach the border with Iraq, which obstructed the American plan to drive a wedge between Iraq and Syria. This explains why the Americans saw themselves as a force to get implicated directly in the conflict going on in Syria as their proxies couldn’t obstruct the advance of the Syrian Army. And this is what makes, for example, the Australians, and other coalition members feel afraid because I believe they might see themselves as targets for the Russian forces stationed in Syria and they might potentially fear that the Russian forces might down their jets. Especially since Russia has declared the suspension of its agreement of coordinating the movement of forces with the Americans over Syria.

America has been in the past always trying to do things which it thinks because of it being a superpower need not comply with international norms and standards. And that is why it has been defying it in the past, and it thinks that it could get away here as well. But after the Russian warning, I think they will be very careful and would probably not like to repeat something that had happened in the past. - Talat Masood, retired three-star general of the Pakistani Army

RT: The US has launched several airstrikes in Syria recently, but this is the first time it has taken out a pro-government aircraft. Has Washington crossed a line here?

JW: I believe the Americans have targeted directly the Syrians, which might engender a direct conflict between Syrian forces and American forces. In this case, the Russians would see themselves forced to get into the conflict, which might escalate into a regional and maybe international conflict. So, that is why the Russians were so firm in their message to the Americans, and the seriousness of the Russian message was felt by the Australians who feared that they could be collateral victims of a probable direct clash between the Russians and the Americans over Syria.

RT: Should we expect to see more coalition members suspending their airstrikes?

JW: This might be a possibility, but I also fear an escalation by the US because the US is losing ground in Syria. And this is failing all its strategy in the region, which was trying to impose a new geopolitical map in this region that could secure the loyalty of the Middle East to the US. It could ensure that the influence of the US of this strategic region would be for the next century and as part of a grand American strategy to block Eurasia - mainly Russia, Iran, and China from having access to the Eastern Mediterranean. I believe the Americans might escalate this situation in Syria which might also drive other coalition members either to reconsider their position in this coalition or be drawn into the conflict by the US itself. We need to wait and see the development of the events.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.