The Syrian Crisis: increasing difference among Asatana Parties (Russia – Turkey – Iran)

Researchers: 

As there is an increasing Russian criticism towards the situation in Idlib, and a possibility of a potential Turkish operation in east of the Euphrates, there were frequent reports of a Russian / Iranian military disputes in “Hama” city and some other regions.

The reasons of the differences between Turkey and Iran

Regarding the Russian/ Iranian difference, we can indicate to three main reasons:

1-    The return of the Russian/ Israeli coordination that allows Israel to strike Iranian positions in Syria, as well as a repeated claims that Russia disables “S 300” missile system when Israel Strikes the Iranian sites. This was perceived by the Iranians as a Russian acceptance to imposing limits upon the Iranian existence in Syria, which resulted in severe remarks by the head of the Iranian national security and foreign policy committee in the Islamic consultation council.    

2-    A dispute regarding controlling “Al-Mayadin” and “Hama” cities and parts of their countryside. As Russia has demanded the Syrian Fourth Brigade – headed by Maher Al-Assad the Syrian president’s brother and a very close ally to Iran - to withdraw from “Hama” city and parts of its countryside and allow the Fifth Brigade to dominate them, which was denied by Assad.

3-    differences about the quota of each side on Gas and petroleum investments in Syria that was enhanced by a Russian desire to fully control the Syrian Gas sector as a part of a Russian strategy to control as much as it can of the Mediterranean Gas.

The reasons of the differences between Turkey and Russia

It seems like the gap between Russia and Turkey is getting bigger, the main reasons of that can be summarized in three points

1-    The repeated Russian criticism to the security status in “Idlib” especially after the domination of Al-Nosra Front – a group related to Al Qaeda – on the city, and the repeated attacks of the Front on “Aleppo” which were launched form the safe zone that turkey had promised to control and secure. As a result, some Syrian officials  had hinted again about a military operation by Syrian troops backed by Russia to restore the city of Idlib

2-    The Russian turkey dispute about “Adana agreement” – concluded between turkey and Syrian in 1998 – as Russia assumes that according to the agreement, any Turkish military operation in Syria should not threaten the unity of the Syrian state or lead to forming separatist groups at the borders. While turkey is using the agreement as a legal framework for its military existence in northern Syria and its proposed operation in the east of Euphrates river.

3-    The communication between the Syrian government and the Kurds, sponsored by Russia, which led to a kind of initial understanding between them. It states that the Syrian army shall be responsible for boarder security, while the Syrian government will dictate a quota of the returns of Gas and Petroleum to the Kurdish regions, and a governmental pledge not to allow turkey to start a military operation in eastern Euphrates. The Kurdish fighters withdrew from “Menbj”, letting the Syrian army dominate it consequently.

Future of  the Asatana platform: new Moves and new alliances

It seems like the different stances may lead to new moves that may lead to a change in the map of alliances as follows:

First: most probably the coming Asatana Meeting will try to contain the differences among the three parties, in addition to tackling the status of Idlib and the future of the proposed Turkish operation in the eastern Euphrates.

Second: Russia will try to decrease and limit the tension with Iran, as Russia is still putting into its consideration that it may decide to use the military option to restore Idlib and thus will need the Iranian backed militia.

Finally: it is possible that Russia may try to make some kind of mediation between Iran from one side, and the United states and Israel on the other side. Russia may propose reducing the American sanctions on Iran in return for reducing the Iranian existence in Syria, putting into consideration how damaging was the recent American sanctions on the Iranian economy   

To read the full study in Arabic click here: http://ncmes.org/ar/publications/special-publications/360

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