The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and similar groups possess more than 30,000 fighters in Syria. The Iranians say they are managing 100,000 fighters of different nationalities, while the Russians have sent around 3,000 troops. Washington has finally decided to send its own forces . . . a total of only 50 military personnel. Right now we are unable to tell what this force will be doing, nor the political message behind their presence.
The prevailing view is that this is an indication that Washington is not serious regarding anything it says about Syria, whether on the level of confronting ISIS, rejecting Russian expansion, or its keenness over a transition of power as part of a plan to end the conflict. It would have been better if Washington had not sent anyone at all, instead of a force comprising just 50.
What we had really expected from Washington was that it support the Syrian opposition with arms, intelligence, and diplomacy in order to impose on ongoing negotiations the only possible solution to the crisis: a Syria without Bashar Al-Assad in power, and the establishment of a transitional authority that consists of figures from the current government as well as the opposition. Without such a plan, the war will continue and terrorist groups in Syria will remain in the country.
Unlike the Americans, the Russians arrived in Syria with an indubitable political message backed up by fighter jets; and they are gaining unprecedented influence as a result. However, the Russians must be aware that their air force will not end the siege on the Assad regime. Assad himself is besieged in Damascus. So far, daily Russian shelling of Aleppo province has only resulted in the displacement of tens of thousands of residents to areas controlled by extremist groups.
As the largest nest of terrorist groups in the world right now, Syria has become even more dangerous than Afghanistan in terms of being a threat to world security; the country is producing trained fighters and preparing them to return home to begin a new journey of violence.