No boots on the ground? US sends 250 new ceasefire saboteurs to Syria

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May 3, 2016 – 

Albert Naryshkin, PolitRussia – 

Translated by J. Arnoldski

Contradictory opinions have met the news of Washington’s decision to send another 250 foot-soldiers to Syria in addition to the 50 already officially there (we do not know exactly how many military instructors and members of different kinds of American intelligence services are there, but there is reason to think that there are many more). 

In this situation, there is even a degree of humor in how the State Department got into a bind attempting to explain why Obama is sending ground troops to Syria after having already assured everyone, without exception, that he would not send in any ground-troops. The response of State Department Spokesman John Kirby blew everyone away. He said: “ They are not ground troops in the sense that they are not conventional ground troops conducting combat operations on their own.” 

Not satisfied with this miraculous oxymoron, John Kirby continued to lecture about the philological meaning of the phrase “no boots on the ground” which President Obama had used and argued that the feet of 250 marines infantrymen are not actually feet…

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But let’s leave the humor aside. What does Washington’s decision mean in the context of the ongoing political situation? Firstly, this is yet another sign (albeit a rather sluggish one) of moral support for the notorious “moderate opposition” which is having a hard time pulling itself through negotiations. These people claim all of Syria for themselves just as each one of their leaders claims for himself the head of state. Now they have been offered to settle for separate territories and limited rights. But negotiations are going difficultly and Assad’s position is strong, hence the Americans’ decision to try to bolster their proteges a bit. 

Secondly, of course, this is a symbolic and demonstrative sign that the US spits on laws and doesn’t recognize Assad’s authority. It’s only 250 soldiers, but once again nobody asked for them. They decided to do things themselves. According to habit, the US acts illegitimately by sending military contingents in without a legal UN mandate and without the consent of the legal authorities of a country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia has already called the deployment of American special forces to the territory of Syria a violation of the country’s sovereignty. Officially commenting on the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov stated:

“Speaking from the position of the foreign ministry, we of course cannot but feel concerned by such an action carried out by the United States without agreeing with the legal government of the Syrian Arab Republic. This is a violation of sovereignty.”

In reality, all of these maneuvers by Washington are poorly disuguised attempts at undermining the negotiation process currently underway in Geneva whose direction is not the most favorable for the US. Being trapped in the scope of voluntarily-accepted obligations, the Americans are now trying to stir up trouble in Syria at large like before, even though the possibilities of this being done by foreign hands – through terrorists and the “moderate opposition” – are much smaller since Russia’s military operation in Syria began. Foreign hands are too short, figuratively speaking. But Washington will not abandon its hopes to destabilize the situation and swing it in a favorable direction for themselves. The Russian Foreign Ministry will most likely be forced to give a number of asymmetrical responses to these threats. It will not be so easy to maintain the stability that we have achieved in Syria. 

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