Moscow and Damascus realize after five years of the Russian presence in Syria that if Russia leaves its political and military position in Syria, the consequences will be very dangerous for the region.
Dima Nassif, director of Al-Mayadeen office in Damascus, wrote (source in Arabic) the following piece for the Lebanese news channel about the latest developments in the Russian – Syrian relations in light of the latest visit of the Russian top delegation to Damascus followed by a Syrian delegation visit to Moscow:
The visit of the Syrian Minister of Presidential Affairs to Moscow at the head of an economic delegation, a few days ago, may have slipped from media circulation, despite its close connection with the completion of the Russian-Syrian talks or agreements that were reached during the recent visit of the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Borisov and the Russian delegation. It is possible to build on it to launch a Russian-Syrian partnership paper to confront sanctions, including the US ‘Caesar Act‘.
The crowding of readings and interpretations of the visit of the Russian delegation and the presence of Sergey Lavrov after eight years to Damascus can be interpreted as just a temporary Russian economic bargaining – to cross the psychological barrier left by the American pressure on Moscow, to prevent the return of the political process to Geneva, and to exert Russian internal pressure by a current opposing the policy of Putin in Syria – that final understandings must be reached on the Constitutional Committee before the Syrian presidential elections in June 2021.
This visit, as the results confirm, is no further than full support for the Syrian state politically and economically, as it does not come under the heading of Russian initiatives to barter or compromise Damascus’s positions on the political process, the liberation of Idlib, or even eastern Syria. Lavrov’s presence in Damascus was against the backdrop of the “Caesar Act”, not Astana or any other address.
Among the deficiencies of some in Moscow against Damascus are its rigid positions in the face of Russian proposals, which calls for flexibility in negotiations on the part of the Syrian side, and the easing of some formalities that may be interpreted in the way that the Syrian leadership does not wish to cooperate or make any progress in the political process before the elections, repeating the phrase that there is no agreement without agreeing on everything.
On the other hand, Damascus believes that the political process should be based on a long-term strategy, to avoid the traps that Turkey might place through its groups within the opposition delegation, as President Al-Assad spoke in his recent meetings to Russian media.
Columns of cars crowded in front of petrol stations in Syrian cities two months ago did not allow to feel Russian support to alleviate the consequences of the “Caesar Act” and its impact. Then came the huge losses in forest fires and agricultural lands in the countrysides of Lattakia, Homs, Tartous, and Hama, this was quickly seized by the American embassy in Damascus, calling on the Syrian government to protect its citizens, in a naive attempt and unprofessional rhetoric, to test its ability to incite the incubating environment (of the Syrian state), as Caesar (Act) promised in the folds of its goals, without an American understanding of the peculiarity of this environment, which has stood its positions throughout the war, despite all the living and security pressures on its lives.
Moscow, and with it Damascus, after five years of the Russian presence in Syria, are aware that the consequences of Russia leaving its political and military position in Syria will be very dangerous for the region, as the Russian presence aims to ensure security and make the world order more just and balanced, as President Al-Assad said. Ankara’s transfer of the militants from the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda groups to the Azerbaijan front, and before it to Libya, is only the first sign of the expansion of the Turkish project in the region after its failure in Syria, and it is the basis of Moscow’s involvement in the Syrian war, and will not allow its transfer to its own walls.