A Few Russian Concessions: Concessions To Russia Means Concessions To Iran
21 May 2016
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
The recent positive development is that Russia is promoting a peaceful
solution that includes the involvement of the Syrian opposition for the first
time since the military entered the war alongside the Syrian and Iranian
regimes. The downside is that Russia wants to keep Bashar Al-Assad and this is
a bad solution and will not succeed because the opposition wants the removal
Is it possible for the Russians to develop their ideas to enable the
negotiators to finally reach a solution?
The Russians entered the war six months ago, and despite using the latest
weapons that were developed in their laboratories, they have not fulfilled
their vows to defeat the enemies of the Assad regime. Even the city of Aleppo,
which the Russians vowed to liberate, is mostly in the hands of the
opposition. This does not negate the fact that Assad's forces and its ally
Hezbollah have made progress on the ground by seizing some locations and
towns, but they are not conclusive victories. Conclusive victories do not look
likely either. The regime's limited victories are not a result of the military
efforts of the Russians and Iranians but rather the result of pressures on
Turkey that has been forced to close routes used by armed men and to transport
funds. This had led to a decrease in the support provided by countries that
back the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other armed Syrian forces.
Despite these setbacks, the Syrian opposition still controls a third of Syria,
the regime less than a third and terrorist groups about a third as well. The
Russians tasted their first painful defeat last month when their helicopters
which were stationed on the ground at their military base between Aleppo and
Palmyra were destroyed, and armed groups destroyed a long line of trucks that
were used to transport funds. The Russians denied the incident but the
Stratfor intelligence firm provided pictures that undoubtedly show the extent
of the devastation before and after the attack.
Whether the attack was carried out with support or guidance from external
forces to restore balance on the battlefield which has become unbalanced
because of Moscow's intervention and the shrinking role of Turkey, or was
carried out by ISIS or FSA attackers, it remains a remarkable development. It
confirms that the costs of war will be expensive for everyone and not just for
the Syrian people who are being attacked by explosive barrels and are being
bombed randomly by an unaccountable regime.
Assad's three main allies; the Russians, Iran and Hezbollah discovered that
victory in Syria is impossible without a political solution, contrary to their
previous perceptions. They face two problems; the first is their inability to
progress because the majority of the Syrian people are most certainly against
the Assad regime. The second challenge faced by the aggressors is that they
will not be able to continue fighting without their losses increasing.
The political solution which made a little progress last week is an exit for
the Russians and the Iranians. However, it will not be achieved without real
concessions; the proposals adopted by the Geneva II Conference.
As for the US team, it has assumed the role of referee and hopes that the game
ends in a draw or that the presidential term ends without political losses in
Syria, leaving the crisis to the next president. Russian pressure on the US
administration is doubling in order to expand the circle of its military goals
after other military campaigns have so far failed to produce a military
We must not be distracted from the core of the conflict – Iranian expansion in
the region that wants to control Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. This cannot only be
dealt with a solution that pleases the Russians in Damascus. Making
concessions to Russia means making concessions to Iran in the entire region,
not just in Syria.
Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of
Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass
communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is
currently based in Dubai.