A very thin veil was drawn over who exactly is responsible for pulling Syria back together when the three Powers, Turkey, Russia and Iran – three economic disaster areas united in their dislike of the United States – met last week in Teheran to agree what should be done about resistance outstanding from the city of Idlib, which is bafflingly described in Vzglyad ru as within the sphere of influence of all three Powers.
If that is the case, then the whole of Syria lies within the spheres of influence of all three; so Syria itself is thus effectively in the hands of all three Powers and is likely to remain so, which is much closer to the truth. The pretense that it is the Syrian Government which is reuniting the country is observed in some of the language issued from the summit in Teheran and ignored in the rest. The reality is that it is Russia that has been stuffing this broken winged bird back into the cage, aided and abetted by Iran with Turkish quiescence; once, that is, the Turks realised that ISIS was going to lose the war against Assad and Damascus was likely to win. But it is Turkey that will suffer most by a new flood of refugees as theirs is the nearest safe haven along the border.
In Syria the United States has a tiny military presence, estimated at 2,000 men, though protected offshore by the US fleet and potentially massive air power. Washington has no role in the decisions of the three Powers. None the less those Powers are on notice that they cannot do entirely as they please. The United States has announced that it will go in and obliterate Syrian government positions if chemical weapons are dropped on Idlib. The city is estimated to have a civilian population of three million, among whom ISIS and Turkey’s own rebel allies are lurking. Just in case chemical weapons are needed, the Russian Defence Ministry has now announced – evidently to give themselves cover in advance – that “terrorists” in Syria are readying themselves to set off “chemical provocations.” The United States has reason therefore to prepare for the worst.