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MOSCOW, August 29 (Itar-Tass) - Should the United States and its allies deal rocket strikes against strategic facilities in Syria, the situation inside and outside that country will not stabilize, but on the contrary, turn from bad to worse, the director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences Member Sergei Rogov, told ITAR-TASS in an exclusive interview.
He pointed to a variety of speculations as to the real targets of the looming air operation against the Bashar Assad regime. “Some experts believe that the strikes will be targeted against chemical weapons depots. Others argue that attacks will be directed mostly at the command posts of the Syrian army. Also, there are those who believe that government buildings will take the brunt of the attack.” Whatever the case, Rogov believes that the use of force against Syria will be brief - several days at the most.
After that, according to Rogov’s forecast, “a pause may follow, because the United States and the allies lack the strength for escalating attacks, let alone for mounting a ground operation.” “But if rocket strikes follow within days, Bashar Assad’s opponents will appear as the initiators of continuing the civil war,” Rogov said.
“In any case one may speculate that the bombardments themselves will be unable to cause any decisive influence on the ongoing civil war in Syria. Prolonged hostilities and bloodshed will not be halted,” Rogov warned.
About Turkey’s intention to join the allies in a military operation against Syria, should it begin, Rogov said, “I have very big doubts Turkey will dare launch a ground operation in Syria, an intrusion without a UN Security Council resolution. This would entail dire consequences. Inside Turkey there are very big controversies over whether Ankara should get involved in a military conflict in the Middle East. Should foreign troops appear in the territory of Syria, this may draw a very negative response even from Assad’s opponents. For many years Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire, so a Turkish intrusion might be interpreted as an attempt to do away with Syria’s independence and to annex part of its territory.”
Rogov believes that a likely military operation against Syria would have the most negative effects on Russia-US relations. “Bilateral relations are already in a very complex condition, and should the United States and other NATO countries use their armed forces against Syria, a very acute political response from Moscow may follow.”
At the same time there is virtually no chance of a military reaction by Russia to the events inside and around Syria, Rogov believes. “Russia will not be involved in a war in Syria. Possibly, the Emergency Situations Ministry may offer to evacuate from Syria Russian civilians and the military personnel of the naval base at Tartus, Russia’s last naval facility outside the national territory.”
Rogov’s vision of Russian-US relations in the future is unambiguous. “There is going to be a prolonged steady cooling.” The director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies said with regret the current turn of events involving Syria would have adverse effects on Russian-US interaction over Afghanistan and the Iranian nuclear problem.