The promising market of the Middle East is the proverbial ray of hope for the western war industry. They have the money, the willingness to spend and are not constrained on how to spend it. There is, however, one problem or an irritant, if you like to call it - Russia. The old enemy of the US is there to spoil all the fun.
Iraq, Syria and Libya were among the countries who allied with the Soviets in the Cold War. The regimes in these countries were supported and supplied by the Soviets, the 'responsibility' was later inherited by Russia. Their good relations continued after the end of the Cold War in the 1990s. Iran also joined this club after the Islamic revolution of 1979. The Gulf states, however, wholeheartedly supported the US in the Cold War and their friendships have flourished in later years.
Russia exported food, medicines and weapons to Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The country has a big military complex that includes a massive war industry, employing around two million people. It has rejuvenated its military ambitions recently. Its 2011–20 State Armaments Program envisages wide-ranging reforms of its armed forces. According to SIPRI, "the rising trend in Russia’s military expenditure, which started in 1999, accelerated sharply in 2012, with a real-terms increase of 16 per cent". In February 2012, the Russian government announced plans to spend about $100 billion through 2020 to modernise its military-industrial complex.
After the demise of the Soviet Union, the Russian war industry is left with a few clients in the outside world which weighs negatively against it, not only in terms of business but also in terms of its shrinking military influence. According to a New York Times report, Russian arms sale to Iran dropped from $2.1 billion to $300 million in the period 2003-06 due to UN-imposed sanctions but the loss was compensated by more sales to Syria whose orders increased from $2.1 billion in 2003-06 to $4.7 billion in 2007-10. Russia recently lost another generous client - Libya - when the government of Muammar al-Gaddafi fell. The chief spokesman for Rosoboronexport, the state-owned weapons trading company of Russia, Vyacheslav N. Davidenko, had disclosed in an interview in 2012 that the new government in Libya has suspended about $4 billion in previously agreed-upon contracts.
The ouster of the Assad regime thus will destroy another of the Russian war industry's major clients. It will be ousted from the world's most lucrative arms market - Middle East. This will hurt its strategic position in the region and its repute in the global arms bazaar. One company's loss is another’s gain and when the times are tough you can't leave that to chance.
The people's case:
Syria has an estimated population of 23 million people, a little less than that of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and with one hundred thousand already dead, the conflict has rendered homeless over two million, that is almost every tenth family. An end to the violence is years, or decades, away. It will take even longer for sectarian and tribal fissures to mend, which ostensibly means that a generation is wasted. So, whoever wins this war - the US arms corporations or the Russian military complex, the Saudi Wahabis or the Irani Shias, the Israeli strategists or the Islamic militants - the Syrian people have already lost it.
Does then, the victory matter at all?