Is the US Too Timid to Confront Russia? Frustrations Over Ukraine
Escalating tensions between the US and Russia in Syria is Washington’s frustrations over the Kremlin’s special operations in Ukraine. The US forces are at the risk of being expelled out of Syria through Russia, Iran and Syria’s coordinated, coercive campaign.
US forces are in Syria under Combined Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, which aims to militarily defeat ISIS through partnerships with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and International Coalition partners. The Biden administration is aware that Russia, Syria and Iran want to drive the US forces that have been deployed in the country since 2015, out of Syrian territory.
Russia has upped its game in Syria, escalating tensions with the US troops. Experts believe US President Joe Biden must find ways to contact the Russian President Vladimir Putin and tell him America’s anger regarding the Russian threats to the lives of Americans in Syria. The EU can also do its bit by mediating between Russia and the US. This will prevent any combined Russian-Iranian-Syrian attempts to expel US forces from the country.
Moreover, there’s little cooperation between the United States and Russia in fighting terror groups in Syria. Mona Yacoubian, vice president of the US Institute of Peace’s Middle East and North Africa Center, highlighted that Putin’s frustrations over Ukraine are to blame. She said there has been a clear escalation of tensions since March 2023, largely driven by Russian provocations of the US in Syria. The expert explained the heightened tensions derive directly from the war in Ukraine. Russia is trying to provoke the US.
Critics believe President Biden has shown little strategic interest in Syria. Mary Beth Long, assistant secretary of defense during the George W. Bush administration, said they want an incident in order to have an excuse to escalate. “What really happens is, you issue orders to your pilots and NATO folks, to basically be careful and do everything possible not to allow them to provoke you because they want an incident in order to have an excuse to escalate. So what we really do, although we don’t admit it, is we put our airmen and our sailors are higher risk, because they basically have to absorb these things. It’s a safety issue, it’s an emotional issue. It’s tough on these guys.”
The US Air Force in mid-June redeployed F-22 fifth generation stealth fighters to an airbase in the Middle East – Muwaffaq Salti Airbase in Jordan. Then in the first week of July, the US Air Force deployed A-10 ground attack jets and F-16 fighters on July 14.
However, in terms of manpower Russia outnumbers the United States. Washington has about 900 troops in Syria, while Moscow has 6,000 soldiers. As such, the possibility of a US-Russia war over Syria is very slim.