In the early hours of Saturday morning, Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the U.K, announced a co-ordinated strike on Syrian chemical plants alongside the USA and France. The airstrike was in response to alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, which violates the Geneva Protocol.
Many British citizens were dismayed by May’s decision to join the USA and France in intervening in Syria, as the current situation is exceptionally convoluted, especially by the involvement of Russia. Relations between the UK and Russia have already been deteriorating, following the debacle of Sergei and Yulia Skripal’s poisoning, which led to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK.
The war in Syria is not as clear-cut as one would like to think, and it is essentially turning into a proxy war between the United States and Russia. In essence, Russia is supporting Bashar al-Assad (the Syrian president) to fight anti-Assad militia groups, but some of these anti-Assad militias are or have been supported by America; at the same time, Islamic State is trying to capitalise on the anarchy to seize control of the country, but are also facing resistance from Russian forces.
Now that Theresa May has introduced the UK into such an intricate situation, it further destabilises our relations with Russia. The UK would have to support America by helping anti-Assad militias, but that means potentially having to engage in combat with Russian military police deployed in Syria.
The UK is in a much more precarious position than it realises, and the issue here is the improper conduct of Theresa May. Involving the UK in the Syrian conflict was a decision many people sided against, as it is heavily reminiscent of the Afghanistan invasion, which had a sour end for British forces, and unavoidably puts innocent Syrian lives at risk. With the current political climate, the UK could see itself dragged into an unnecessary conflict in Syria, which could potentially escalate into direct warfare with Russia.
In some ways, Theresa May’s decision to involve the UK in Syria can be seen as an attempt to keep up appearances with the likes of Russia and America, in coming across as a world superpower. The fact of the matter is, the UK is not the behemoth it once was in the 1950s, and it stands nothing to gain and everything to lose by making such tactical decisions. The new world powers are the likes of Russia, North Korea, China, USA and even Saudi Arabia; for the UK’s leaders to continue as if they can match the firepower of Russia, is nothing short of delusional.
As the conflict unfolds in Syria, the only thing that is becoming clearer, is the extent of global discord.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Vincent Foret