Syria Escalation Scenarios: US Military Options, Russian Responses
The doomsday clock is ticking.
The situation in Syria is set to explode into a new big war.
On April 11, US President Donald Trump once again showed off his twitter-style diplomacy and threatened the Assad government and Russian forces in Syria with missiles. A day earlier, Russia’s envoy to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said that Russia affirms its right to shoot down missiles and to target the launchers in the case of an attack on Syria.
These statements became became the latest in a chain of events, which started on April 7, when allegedly a chemical attack took place in Douma. Immediately following the incident, the US and its allies accused the Assad government of being behind the alleged attack and started drawing up plans for a military action.
Considering the current state of affairs, it is highly likely that Washington will implement a military option, without waiting for the results of any potential international investigation. In this case, this would result in four main possible scenarios of the escalation:
The 1st scenario. The US will conduct a Shayrat-style missile strike on some almost empty Syrian military facility somewhere in the desert. Thus, Washington will burn millions of dollars for another PR move. In this case, there will likely be no Russian military response. The conflict in Syria will continue along its current lines. Pro-government forces will clear the remaining pockets. The Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance will continue contributing military and diplomatic efforts to restore Syrian territorial integrity.
The 2nd scenario. The US will expand the scale of its attack, increasing the offensive means as well as the affected targets. This attack will cause notable casualties among Syrian service members and damage to the country’s military and possibly civilian infrastructure. If Russia does not respond to this attack militarily, the US-led block may develop momentum forcing its proxies to launch attacks on government forces in the Euphrates Valley as well as in eastern and southern Syria. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and ISIS will re-activate their cells across the country. Moscow will react to this with precision attacks seeking to avoid a military confrontation with the US-led bloc. The end of the war in Syria could be delayed for another 5 long years.
The 3rd scenario. The US will conduct an expanded attack, but will face a limited yet effective Russian military response. In this case, Russian forces will respond by shooting down Trump’s “smart” missiles, targeting some of the launchers involved in the attack and maybe some US military installations in northern and eastern Syria. Washington will use the limited confrontation to increase diplomatic and media pressure on Russia. It will also become a formal pretext for a new wave of anti-Russian sanctions. This will be useful for the US-led bloc because the so-called Skripal case, which has been designed to be such a pretext, has just collapsed.
The 4th scenario. The US will conduct an expanded attack, but a Russian military response will trigger further escalation between the two world powers. Justifying its actions with so-called Russian aggression, US forces will attack the Russian military group in Syria. This will be the start of a new regional war between the US-led bloc, including the UK and France, and the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance supported by Hezbollah. Such regional conflicts were repeatedly observed in the 20th century. In the worst case scenario, this regional war may turn into a nuclear conflict.
While publicly the US justifies its possible military aggression against Syria with the need to respond to the alleged chemical weapons use in Douma, there are two groups of real reasons behind the scene:
The war will draw the attention of US society away from internal problems. Currently the US is facing a serious political and security crisis. Society is divided by political, economic and ethnic issues. The US administration is under constant pressure from its opponents. Since the start of 2018 alone, mass shootings in the US have already killed more people than the April 7 Douma incident.
The war will allow to explain to US taxpayers the increased expenditure on the US Armed Forces and the military-industrial complex. The increased defense spending will also permit to the US economy to resume stable growth in the framework of the existing world economic paradigm.
Additionally, the Euro-Atlantic elites are attempting to use developments over the conflict in Syria to save the US-led unipolar world order and the so-called Western value system that allows them to remain in power.
The doomsday clock is ticking.