If the goal of the United States involvement in Iraq, and Syria is to defeat ISIS and bring peace and stability to the region, all while maintaining a predominant position in middle eastern affairs. It would seem that by Russia’s recent incursion into Syria, an order to prop up President Bashar al-Assad the United States options have dwindled. And while it is true that the Russians have somewhat limited the coalitions options, and are rightfully so a force to be reckoned with, the idea that the United States has completely run out of options is simply a fallacy. When Russia began its incursion the first thought that came in my head was that this was probably the end of major American involvement in the affairs of Syria and Iraq, at least for the time being. It also occurred to me that Russia is trying to make a strong play for power and prestige in the region– indeed the world, and was largely successful at it. It also struck me as a rather naïve move that Russia, a waning power by all accounts, but a power no less was making what I would consider a blunder of historical proportions. Yet with all their inanity they had won the day in Syria. I expected for the U.S. to withdraw eventually if not immediately from the battlefield and perhaps leave things to the Turks to take care of. However upon closer inspection I realized that the Russians, whom are under a lot of pressure economically couldn’t keep up this breakneck pace of events indefinitely. I was right. The Russians got to Syria and immediately began bombing rebel factions friendly to the Coalition such as Tajammu Alezzah, and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). And though they struck Islamic State positions as well, the damage was done, the goodwill which was afforded them by the international community at the beginning of the campaign, was squandered fighting forces which only immediately threatened Assad’s positions in the west of the country. The Russians by doing so have opened up what I believe to be two lanes of opportunity for the U.S. and its coalition partners.
The first lane that I believe that has been opened up by the recent fighting is the idea of being able to counter Russia’s influence in the Baltic by now moving men and military materiel into the Baltic states an order to work as a bulwark against further Russian aggression. You can see it in the court of public opinion, as of now the European continent couldn’t be more decisive in their discontent with Russian policies not only in Syria, but the added on effect of Ukraine and the greater Baltic’s as well. By moving troops into one or more of the occidental countries in the Baltic’s we can guarantee safety from further Russian aggression with an added plus of having a casus entente for exactly the reason of why we should do such a thing.
The second avenue which has opened up is the fact that now there is a casus belli for Iraq to enter Syria for the first time since the wars beginning. The explicit surrendering of the airspace of Iraq, by Iraq to Russia at first seemed to be a quid pro quo. But with Russia not bombing targets immediately the U.S. can now say that Russia has precipitated the necessity for ground troops to be present in western Syria. I don’t talk of American ground troops but rather the professional army of Iraq. By Russia conceding that the Islamic State are indeed terrorist, and considering the amount of heft that they have put into the fight, it seems logical that Iraq would want to protect the integrity of its borders, and remain a contiguous state by eliminating once and for all the Islamic State. And since the Russians refuse to field their army in the west of Syria, it seems incumbent upon Iraq (with the backing of U.S. air controllers of course) to eliminate the threat in not only Iraq, but Syria as well.
The Idea that Russia has somehow limited the amount of options for the U.S. and its coalition is somewhat fallacious. By balancing Russian air power with U.S. air power, and relieving the stress on Syrian coalition brigades, by the used of the Iraqi army. We can assure the eventual destruction of Islamic State, and continue the marginalization of the Syrian government and Russia as well.