In an interview with Muslim Press, Professor Tim Anderson said “It seems to me that Syria, with its friends and allies, is winning the war, but it is hard to see how the terrorism can be stopped without either a political agreement OR 'regime change' in Turkey and the USA, in particular.”

Below is the full text of the interview:

Muslim Press: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told the Sunday Times that the Syrian conflict can be described as something “between the Cold War and Third World War.” What’s your take on his remarks?

Tim Anderson: There is certainly a massive internationalisation of the war on Syria, both through the sponsors of terrorist groups and the jihadists from dozens of countries. There is no way the conflict can properly be regarded as simply a 'civil war'.

The conflict does have some cold war features because nations are dividing in two blocs, one led by the USA and the other by Russia.

MP: Do you agree with him that the Third World War is a war against Syria?

Tim Anderson: The largest, most massively intenationalised war of recent years has been the dirty war on Syria.

From a Syrian point of view - with jihadists from China, Russia and Europe as well as around the region - it must seem that half the world is against them.

MP: Assad said that he sees no solution in sight. How do you see the future of Syrian crisis?

Tim Anderson: It seems to me that Syria, with its friends and allies, is winning the war, but it is hard to see how the terrorism can be stopped without either a political agreement OR 'regime change' in Turkey and the USA, in particular.

MP: How has the situation in Syria changed in recent years? Do Western countries still want the same thing that they wanted four or five years ago?

Tim Anderson: Syria resisted, almost alone, for more than four years.

However, the enhanced support from Russia and Iran, over the past year, has made a decisive military difference.

The colonial powers, for their part, having failed to topple the government in Damascus, have moved into their 'Plan B', an attempt to weaken and partition Syria.

That strategy includes savage economic sanctions, which the US also imposes on Iran and Lebanon - as also dozens of other countries.

MP: How has the support of Russia, Hezbollah and Iran affected the conflict?

Tim Anderson: Syria's allies have always been important, as a deterrent against the US and Israeli aggression that has simmered for many decades.

Now that the game is in the open, Russia, Hezbollah and Iran have made good on their promises and have helped Syria turn the tide.

Let's also remember the important, mature diplomatic role of Russia.

MP: What’s your analysis of the US-backed bid to seize Raqqa from ISIS?

Tim Anderson: The US wants to keep a military foothold in Syria, as it has managed to do, for far, in Iraq.

Since its proxy armies are facing defeat in Aleppo, Washington wants to use the 'Kurdish card' (as it has in Iraq) to carve some slices from north east and East Syria. It is not so clear that it will be able to get away with this.

I believe that Washington is desperately worried that failure in Syria will mean a steady reversal of its influence in Iraq, and therefore also within the entire Middle East region.

 

Tim Anderson has degrees in economics and international politics, and a doctorate on the political economy of economic liberalisation in Australia. His current research interests relate to (i) Development strategy and rights in development, (ii) Melanesian land and livelihoods, and (iii) Economic Integration in Latin America. He is a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. He has studied the Syrian conflict since 2011.