U.S. President Barack Obama recently said that he is mulling options on Syria, prompting Secretary of State Chuck Hagel to announce that U.S. naval forces and assets are being positioned in anticipation of any decision by Obama to order military action against Syria.
So, is Washington really planning a military offensive against Syria or is its bluster just part of the massive U.S. propaganda campaign that is meant to boost the morale of the dejected and hapless rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad?
To answer that question, it is necessary to determine the objectives of a U.S. attack on Syria.
Is Washington planning to bomb major military sites or, as it claims, sites where the Syrian government maintains its stockpile of chemical weapons, or is it planning to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, as it did in Iraq in 1991?
Moscow’s reaction to such a scenario would probably be serious since it is common knowledge that Russian President Vladimir Putin has stances reminiscent of the Cold War and many call him the ice man of the current political era.
Moreover, if war breaks out in Syria, other states in the region, especially the countries that support Assad, would certainly enter the battlefield.
Israel is another factor in the equation since it has always sought an opportunity to undermine Assad and members of the regional axis of resistance.
Taking into consideration the fact that Moscow and Washington have intensified their efforts to reach a diplomatic agreement on Syria and the Middle East in general, the possibility of a U.S. attack on Syria has diminished greatly, although Washington may make a token gesture to appease its regional allies.
Obama’s current security team, which includes John Kerry, John Brennan, Chuck Hagel, and Martin Dempsey, is known for their soft approach to developments in the Middle East, and they do not seem to be inclined to get their government entangled in another military adventure in the Middle East.
In light of all this, it seems that the United States’ recent hawkish posturing is just bluster meant to breathe new life into the dying opposition in Syria.
Hassan Lasjerdi is a political analyst and an expert on the Middle East based in Tehran.
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