Just a few days after the statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the end of the civil war in Syria, the Middle East region was on the verge of yet another military conflict. This time around, attacks on Saudi oil facilities, in which the West habitually accused Iran, turned out to be an occasion.
The Russian Foreign Ministry talks about peace, and Washington rattles weapons.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the end of the Syrian war after a series of victories of government forces in the province of Idlib, which militants still continue to control. According to the assessment of the Russian General Staff, up to 45 thousand terrorists were concentrated here, who in the event of a massive attack could flood under the guise of refugees into the territory of Turkey. This is one of the reasons why the Turkish side actively opposed the actions of Damascus. And the second reason is much more commonplace – Ankara supported the groups operating in Idlib.
The offensive, which began in April, was led by the Syrian army with the support of Iranian and Russian forces. However, how large the scale of this support was is still completely unknown. For example, the Syrian opposition say that Russian military special forces participated in the operation in Idlib, but the Defense Ministry continues to deny the participation of ground forces in the Syrian campaign since its inception in 2015.
To eliminate all disagreements, the presidents of three countries – Russia, Turkey and Iran (considered the “guarantors” of the ceasefire in several de-escalation zones created back in 2018 – of which only the Idlib really did not take control of the Syrian army) met in Ankara. However, their meeting took place not only against the background of Lavrov’s statement on ending the Syrian war, which lasted since 2011 and claimed the lives of 600 thousand people, but also against the backdrop of the threat of a new war. This time in Iran.
Threatening Iran, unlike Syria, is not internal civil strife, but a very specific external adversary – the United States. The Americans are rattling their arms, threatening to start a full-scale intervention in response to sabotage at Saudi oil facilities. As recently as in the case of attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Omruz, Washington, without waiting for the results of an international investigation, blamed for sabotage in the cities of Abkaik and Khurais (as a result of which oil production in the country, by the way, decreased by 50%, and global quotes jumped 14%) laid on Tehran. We are talking about this with a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor Mikhail Roschin.
Assad’s anger over Americans.
– Professor Roschin, what, in your opinion, was dictated by Lavrov’s statement? Indeed, in recent months, both Russian and Western politicians have repeatedly declared the end of hostilities.
– I think Lavrov’s statement most reflects the real situation: the Syrian government has finally regained control over most of Syria. At the same time, only part of the Idlib and Rakka provinces remain uncontrolled, as well as the American base Et-Tanf, located on the Syrian-Jordanian border in the province of Homs, – says Mikhail Yurievich.
– Near the American base of At-Tanf there is the Rukban refugee camp, from where recently UN forces tried to evacuate people. But the militants did not let the buses. And Moscow called on the Americans to assist in ensuring the evacuation. It turns out that the militants are completely controlled by the Americans?
- As I understand it, the control over the Rukban refugee camp is in the hands of the Syrian democratic forces, which are directly supported by the United States. But why refugees do not want to leave the camp, it’s not clear to me personally. Perhaps the Syrians, who found themselves in territory not controlled by the government, are simply waiting for the start of a real process of political settlement.
– But there is no unity in Damascus either. We recently wrote about the conflict between President Bashar al-Assad and the richest family of the country, Mahluf. How will this affect the post-war settlement?
- I hope that in Ankara, the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran will be able to agree on progress towards a peaceful settlement in Syria. Our president announced that the constitutional committee of Syria is almost formed. Consequently, the process of preparing a new Syrian constitution will accelerate.
As an expert, I believe one thing is clear – at the center of the political configuration in Syria, Bashar al-Assad will remain for the foreseeable future. But it must be remembered that without engaging moderate opposition and the Kurds in governing the country, it will be difficult to achieve a lasting settlement.
– Today, Syria is a zone of influence not only of the United States, but primarily of several regional powers, including Iran. Do you think that the Americans today are ready to start military operations against Tehran, is it because they feel the danger of its strengthening in the region?
- In general, I remind you that the Hussites, a Shiite militia group from Yemen, took responsibility for attacks on Saudi Aramco factories. The Yemeni crisis has recently escalated amid growing contradictions between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. So Iran is not alone responsible for the aggravation in the Persian Gulf. I am not talking about the United States and Britain at all. Yes, drone strikes will affect the growth of tension in the triangle “Saudi Arabia – USA – Iran.” However, despite all the warlike rhetoric of the United States, a real war with Iran in the foreseeable future, in my opinion, is unlikely.