Writing By: Issam Khoury
The Russian decision to activate the overt military action on the Syrian territory was not taken through the past few months, rather; it is a decision that has been prepared many years ago, since for the Russians, Syria does not at all mean the Assad regime, that cost the Russians to defy the NATO representatives in the Security Council more than once.
Syria, in short, is the most important road to transport liquefied gas pipeline from the Arabian Gulf / the Persian towards Europe, and in case this route is established, it will definitely be capable of destroying the most important Russian investment in Europe, and that is why the Kremlin administration insisted to support the Assad regime that loss its legitimacy for the majority of nations of the world that comprise part in the group of “Friends of the Syrian people.” Moreover; When the Syrian defenses began to crumble in the past months, the Russians were forced to show their military presence directly within the major headline which is to fight terrorism, and this title ; within its embedded meaning, will support al-Assad’s military regime in a way or another , more than that; the Russians may not keep al-Assad in person, but they will certainly seek the continuation of his military regime which owes allegiance to Moscow and will prevent any future opportunities to establish gas pipelines that threaten the Russian economy, and allow US companies to define the European-fuel prices all over the world.
Heading out of this point, the Russians strive to display their muscles and strength in front of the international community, where they had fired rockets from the Caspian Sea through Iranian and Iraqi territorial Down in the heart of the capital of the Islamic State in Raqqa, the main goal of these missiles is not the Islamic state, but it is a clear message to the international community and NATO of possessing -friendly ambience, and that they will be a major and functional player in the economic output that would result from the Syrian civil war.
All these developments occurred prior to Vienna meeting, in which the Russians relied on imposing their agenda on the effective states in the Syrian file, specifically “the Europeans, the Gulf, and the Americans,” but what happened was quite different where the Iranians insisted on the existence of al-Assad thus challenging the Saudis. And it seems that the Russians have supported their Iranian ally in this endeavor because the international community did not grant the Russians direct assurances concerning their economic decision in terms of the gas projects in the future. Actually, The Russians are not in a hurry to solve the Syrian file, since they are not affected by the issue of the displaced refugees who invaded the European countries and caused them a huge economic and security burden. Moreover, the continual existence of the organization of the Islamic State in the Syrian land is an additional factor that prevents any international investment company of investing between the Gulf and Europe. Based upon this perspective, one may justify the weakness of the Russian air strikes against the organization of the Islamic State, compared to the airstrikes it implements against the other Islamic organizations adjacent to the areas controlled by the Assad regime.
The Russian military Plan in Syria is based on creating safe zones in areas that fall under the control of the regime, which they consider as their advanced military base in the Mediterranean, and then to seek gradual expansion towards further areas. But in order to accomplish such a target, the Russians have to find a Syrian partner able to impose its militarily control on the areas that are recovered from the opposition, and this is almost impossible after the conversion of most of the Syrian army to sectarian militias, and this transformation is not at all in the interests of the Russians, where the Alawit sect, that makes up the majority of the fighting force of the Syrian Army, represent only 13% of Syria’s population, which means that its fighters would not obtain their popular embrace of the Sunni majority, which also does not accept the Shiite Iranians, Iraqi ,and Lebanese fighters. And this certainly will pay a lot of the frustrated young Sunni Syrians to join jihadi- radical organizations, which would make Syria home to export extremism, and this in turn certainly hinders the project of anti-terrorism adopted by the Americans after the events of September 11.
Certainly the Russians feel these risks and their impact on the public opinion internationally but they have no other way out since their economy is in danger, and the dream of the Russian Empire could collapse if they abandon the Syrian file, so they are trying to market the idea of openness and cooperation with America’s allies in the region where they initiated military coordination with the Israeli side that bombed, in the beginning of October, The Syrian Qatif camps which contain Scud missiles, and the Israelis, in turn, allowed the Russians to strike sites of the opposition on the Syrian-Israeli border. Russians also showed flexibility with the Americans in their air strikes which take off from the Turkish Incirlik air base.
These overall geo-military steps reveal the Russians as if they are an independent team away from the international coalition, but it intersects with its only one single political perspective, which is “political Islam will not control Syria”
Certainly this perspective disturbs the Turks and the Qataris, but it comforts the Saudis who supported Sisi’s military regime against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the only paradox witnessed here is through the obstinate Saudis to the idea of the removal of Assad from the seat of government, which is highly welcomed and encouraged by the French, while it is seen as of axioms by the Englishmen, Germans and Americans that will come by Time …
However, in case the Russians approve this option under the Vienna negotiations, they will certainly gain a crucial regional player on their side, and this player is certainly capable of influencing the various Islamist groups, and is also afraid of the growth of the organization of the Islamic State, which uses an exaggerated speech of the school of Islamic Wahhabism, which may weaken the Saudi control over the Muslim world, so there is a great Saudi-Russian work denominators, if Russia wants that, which justifies the Saudi official visits to the Kremlin, and the distinctive Russian-Egyptian relationship backed by the Saudis.
But in case the Russians ignored the Saudi demand and continued supporting the Iranian demands, the reflexes of the Syrian file will not be confined to Syria only, but also we will witness a common Islamist media speech entitled as the Russians occupy the Islamic lands ,so rush to Jihad, recalling to our memories the incidents of Afghanistan. The Americans certainly will not be a partner of any of the parties in this war, since the Russians are acting upon their own decision without coordinating with the Americans, and the Russians are seeking to achieve their interests without satisfying the American-European companies.
The Jihadists, in the generality of their intellectual schools, lay under one single doctrine ,which is to fight whomever is different, and when that different becomes a partner of a major enemy, he will be targeted everywhere, and this was indeed reflected in the Russian plane blast, departing from Sharm el-Sheikh airport, this is also what prompted the terrorist organization Islamic State to issue a threatening statement against the Russians in the interiors of the Russian ground, and strikingly, this statement did not receive any condemnation by the moderate Islamic schools, rather it was seen as a natural result of playing with fire.
The results of the Russians in Syria will be radically different from the ones it obtained in Crimea in Ukraine, that is of the majority of Russian population, for Syria is predominantly a Sunni country and is surrounded by Islamist Sunni countries that clearly fight against Persian expansion, and these countries are well aware that the Iranians are the most important partners to the Russians in the region, and this partner did not raise democratic developmental slogans for the region to compete with the underdeveloped Gulf regimes, rather it suggested a religious project totally contradicting with the cultural background of the majority of Arabs and Muslims, leading to the outbreak of “the Sunni-Shiite” conflict, and this conflict by its very nature would not allow stability to prevail neither in Syria, nor in Iraq or Yemen, which means the possibility of the emergence of other organizations similar to the Organization of the Islamic State , the Nusra and Hezbollah in the region, and thus the continuation of the war on terror for many years to come where armies plague the economies and increase the outlays for the security services, instead of turning these resources towards the development of the economy of the countries fighting against terrorism.