Syrian Conflict

The Syrian War started in 2011 as an uprising and protests against the government of Syria led by Bashar Al Assad.  Originally,  the rebel forces were known as the Free Syrian Army but later splintered into several different groups, one of which is ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).  The conflict is complex, with several internal and external groups and nations fighting for control of Syria and Northern Iraq.

This conflict has grown in complexity with more groups and nations being pulled into the conflict since the beginning in 2011 to include to varying degrees: Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Lebanon, Russia and The United States.  Some of the major nonstate groups to be involved are: The Free Syrian Army, ISIL, the Kurds, and various other rebel groups.

Developments: Russia has sent at least a dozen ships, including two frigates off the coast of Syria and possibly as many as 17 according to Syrian sources.  Both the Russian and Syrian forces are preparing for the siege and recapture of the last major rebel stronghold in Idlib province.  The United States and the U.K. have warned Russia and Syria that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated and will be responded by with more airstrikes against various targets within Syria.

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami visited with Bashar Al Assad this past week signing an agreement which would solidify an existing agreement meant at keeping Iranian troops within Syria.  The United States and Isreal are greatly opposed to this deal for security reasons.

What to watch: The coming siege of the Idlib province is closer with the Russian ships in the area most likely the time is close for the retaking of the province from the rebel forces.  Many rebel fighters from other parts have resettled here, so this may be seen as their last chance to either give up or face almost certain death.

Analysis: This will be a major event should this go wrong for all sides of this engagement.  This is a very populated area with over 2 million residents and even more most likely as many of the separatists/rebels have relocated here.  You have a high civilian population, but yet Turkey is already having to harbor millions of refugees from Syria and there is no indication that they are willing or can accept the displacement of so many people in this area should the situation continue to deteriorate.

The worst case scenario for this coming siege is a high number of refugees along with all the dead an wounded civilians, possibly the most since the war began along with Russia and the United States already at war with words on who is to blame for chemical attacks that have not even happened.  Russia has already accused the White Helmets of carrying fake chemicals to stage fake chemical attacks.  Should there be a confirmed chemical attack the United States along with possibly the U.K. will most likely strike targets in Syria, but how will that all play out with so many Russian warships in the area?

War in Donbass, Ukraine, Ukrainian/Russian conflict

 This conflict started in March of 2014 when pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass (Eastern Ukraine) took control of government buildings after the successful annexation of the Crimea near the Black Sea by Russia.  This conflict is complex with both Russian and Ukrainian forces involved as well as pro-Russian rebel groups and separatists as well as Ukrainian militia groups involved.   The Russian government is also thought to have played a major role in large-scale election medaling and cyber attacks on Ukrainian power grids and infrastructure during this conflict.