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Why Chemical Weapons Are Not Likely In Idlib

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Assad Is Not Expected To Use Chemical Weapons In Idlib Province Conflict With Rebels

Russia is aware that after years of civil and religious power struggle between violent pro-Sunni and pro-Shi’a groups in Iraq and Syria, many prefer regional stability over democratic freedom. This may be the reason for the Trump administration and NATO merely asserting chemical weapon usage as the red line in Idlib.

Russia’s economy is approximately the same size as that of Australia. While the hundreds of billions of dollars the U.S. and NATO have spent fighting conflicts in Iraq and Syria are a colossal loss, the toll of these conflicts on the Russian economy holds infinitely greater severity.

Russia may convince Iran that an even-handed approach on Idlib is beneficial in maintaining its status as a regional power. While civilians may choose to escape conflict via Turkey and the Mediterranean, hardened Islamic radicals may simply relocate to Iraq, challenging Iranian dominance in that country. In addition, as the U.S. batters Iran’s economy with sanctions, Iran is currently appealing to the European Union, switching transactions from dollars to euros to maintain their investments in Iran.

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Russia is aware that the U.S.’ most important regional ally, Israel, is wary of replacing the Assad regime. Most likely, an Al Qaida backed figure will replace Assad if current powers are reversed in Syria. Remaining primarily neutral during the Syrian civil war, Israel maintains positive relations with Russia regarding rollback of Hezbollah in the Golan Heights.

If Russia maintains a secure peace in Idlib, it gains unfettered access to the Mediterranean. Conversely, if the balance of power is reversed significantly via Turkish and NATO reprisal, Russian access to the Mediterranean comes at much greater price.  

Russia enjoys its current relations with Germany, especially on trade of natural gas via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It is aware that nationalist factions have sprung up in the Euro due to the influx of refugees from Syrian civil war.

Germany, the most influential economy in the Euro, has recently sought to placate port of access countries regarding exchange of refuges and asylum seekers. A fresh influx of asylum seekers from Syria may end Merkel’s leadership and construction of Nord Stream 2, crippling the Russian economy as well as its influence in the European Union.

To the chagrin of anti-Assad war hawks, Turkey and Russia are devising a demilitarized zone in Northern Syria. Both will benefit. Russia will hold regional hegemony, and Turkey’s devastated economy will not have to face another wave of refugees. That is, if tempers are maintained, and Putin, Rouhani, and Assad agree on limited show of force.

 

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