In September of 2015, Russia started carrying out its air campaign in Syria. This was after Syrian President Bashar Assad requested for military assistance from Russia in the wake of its fight against terrorists, particularly Daesh, that were endangering the country’s peace and stability. While the airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) was the primary concern of Russia, the situation has spilled over to a wider ground and has affected many Syrians. Many fear that it would become a full blown war and Syria would be caught in the middle of it. Now, the fight is between Turkey and Russia (and Syria).
NATO and Its Role in Syria
NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is an alliance of 28 countries. According to its website, the organization’s primary aim is to protect the security and freedom of its members using political and military methods.
While NATO supports the fight against the Daesh Coalition or ISIS, it has not taken any definitive action yet. There are some, however, who are pushing the organization to take on a clearer and more aggressive role, especially in presenting a counter action to Russia, which has become especially assertive in its actions in support of Syria and its president (who wants the war swayed to his favor).
It is recommended for NATO to support the cessation of war in Syria and this should go on until NATO member countries are ready to accept the leadership of Bashar Assad in Syria. At the same time, necessary steps should be taken so that NATO won’t add more to its conflict with Russia, which can end in a war between the two.
What NATO Should Do
At this point, NATO is expected to carry out two major actions: 1) First, it should make sure that it is not recognized or identified as a part of the coalition carrying out the war in Syria; and 2) It should be on the lookout for the safety of Turkey.
NATO Member Countries and Their Stand
All 28 NATO member countries are expected to support the organization in its stand on the Syrian crisis. However, some countries cannot help but take some part in the action. Turkey, for instance, has taken a stand and is supporting the rebels. Also aggressively doing something about the situation is Saudi Arabia, which intends to bring in fighter jets to Turkey to be deployed in airstrikes in Syria.
For the United States, the most important thing to do is encourage and push NATO to a more active participation in the fight against the terrorists in the Middle East. The U.S. believes that the only way to achieve something positive in Syria’s dilemma is for NATO to bring together all member countries to get involved and work on coordinating their efforts. Berlin and Paris, however, are not keen on the United States’ suggestion because it will mean they will be bound by US policy, which they do not want to happen.
What NATO Member Countries Should Do
At this point, what NATO member countries can do is sit down and discuss their initiatives as a group and as individual countries. If possible, the discussion should be brought to the NATO-Russia Council, which is the ideal venue for talks and cooperation. Once this has been achieved, the discussion can move on to the security level. What is currently happening, aside from the intervention of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, is that the United States and the United Kingdom have set up their special forces on the ground. While it is possible to have NATO ground troops, too, what will work better would be for Turkey to continue what it is doing with NATO fully supporting it.
More than the fact that different countries are now involved in the action, the Syrian-Russian conflict has metamorphosed into a humanitarian disaster. Every day, hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of individuals and families are affected. If it blows up to greater magnitudes and becomes a full war, more lives will be threatened, affected, and devastated. More communities will be destroyed. While the conflict stems from political roots, the Syrian conflict has become greater than what it was first intended to be. The world should be listening now, and help should soon be on the way.