Handing Syria to Russia Would Inflame Jihadism Abroad

Handing Syria to Russia Would Inflame Jihadism Abroad
Syrian army troops inside the Kweiras air base, east of Aleppo, Syria, Nov. 11, 2015 (SANA photo via AP).

Thanks in large part to Russia’s intervention, the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has registered a series of important victories against its armed opposition and now seems to be encircling Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city. While the civil war is far from over, the conflict’s current trajectory suggests a regime military victory in the western half of the country. But the United States and other so-called Friends of Syria would do well to consider the implications of what it means to watch from the sidelines while the Russian air force obliterates the Syrian rebels.

Set aside the moral stain of accommodating a regime that has done everything to its people from gassing them to stubbing out cigarettes in their eyes. If the West is mostly interested in Syria as an exercise in counterterrorism, then it’s worth thinking through what a Russian-backed regime victory could mean for jihadism in Syria and across the world.

Analysts have warned that such an outcome could be a tremendous boost for global jihadism. In a recent appearance on National Public Radio’s “On Point,” International Crisis Group’s Noah Bonsey called it a “dream scenario” for jihadis inside and outside Syria. “Already Syria is the best recruiting tool they’ve ever had,” Bonsey said. “And a situation in which Bashar al-Assad is trying to hold parts of the country with help from Iranian or Hezbollah troops who are sort of acting as occupiers, with Russian air support—you know, that’s what handing Syria to Russia looks like—that is an even greater boon for jihadi recruitment.”

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review