Russia is squaring up for a fight with America over Syria

Friday, February 10, 2012
By Paul Martin

By Con Coughlin
February 9th, 2012

Confirmation that the U.S. and its allies are studying their military options for helping the anti-Assad rebels in Syria is a worrying development on a number of levels, not least of which is the prospect of the West becoming embroiled in a direct confrontation with the Russians.

As I have argued before, I think the West – and that includes Britain – needs to proceed with great caution before it gets too closely involved in the Syrian crisis. As with the Libya situation last year, we still have no clear idea who the rebels are in Syria, or what their ultimate objective might be.

Homs, the centre of the anti-Assad rebellion, is a known centre for Islamist extremists, and if all Western intervention achieves is the replacement of the Assad regime with an Iranian-style Islamist dictatorship, then we will have scored a monumental own goal.

Of deeper concern, though, is the possibility that the U.S. could find itself involved in a direct military confrontation with Russia over the future of Syria’s destiny. We have been here before, of course, during the 1980s when, at the height of the Cold War, Moscow and Washington fought a proxy war over the fate of neighbouring Lebanon.

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