The partial withdrawal of the Russian group from Syria brought a lot of positive results for Moscow. At the moment, Russia is the main peacemaker of the planet. Among other things, this immediately brought about changes in the negotiations in Geneva. And the international reaction, with whatever skepticism the author may have applied to this concept, in favor of Russian politics. It is compared with the American and the conclusions are unambiguously pro-Russian.
The military of the whole world, including the Americans, are very complimentary about the actions of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria. As for the loss of life of Russia (five soldiers), then in comparison with the campaigns conducted by Western countries, the figure is unprecedentedly low.
However, the war in Syria is far from over. Consider the situation in this country and around it in more detail, based on the materials of Yu. B. Shcheglovina, prepared for the Institute of the Middle East.
Perhaps the main results of the withdrawal from Syria of the Russian VKS political. Once again, he confounded the West and irreconcilable supporters of the overthrow of Assad: Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. As soon as Russia's opponents tune in to a “game” in a certain coordinate system, it suddenly changes at the initiative of Moscow, which forces them to begin the adaptation process again and take the burden of decision making. As a result, Russia is ahead of everyone by a few steps. Such a handicap in international politics is worth a lot.
“The Russian leadership has taken into account the lessons of the Afghan and Iraqi campaigns of the United States, which are bogged down in these countries”
A number of political scientists emphasize that the task of destroying groups such as the Islamic State (IG) and Dzhebhat an-Nusra prohibited in our country has not been fulfilled. However, for this, Russia needed to introduce ground troops into Syria, since Damascus did not have enough of its own forces. In addition, the destruction of the structure of the IG and “Dzhebhat al-Nusra” is possible only if the Assad regime is reconciled with the overwhelming majority of the Sunnis and a compromise is reached on the issue of separation of powers. For this, a truce process has been launched, which demonstrates a positive dynamic, despite shelling and fighting with “irreconcilable”.
The Geneva format of negotiations with the opposition is implemented with difficulty. But it is important in itself that the process is brought under the auspices of the UN. This is fundamental in terms of Moscow’s position on the priority of this organization in solving international problems. In addition, the Geneva format is used by Russian diplomacy to legitimize the Syrian Kurds as negotiators, which Ankara sharply opposes, as well as moderate opposition like the Hmimim group. And these are only diplomatic successes.
In addition to them, the Russian Aerospace Forces expanded the zone of control of government forces, freed up a number of settlements, cleaned the terrorists province of Latakia, created a positive trend in the offensive in Aleppo and near Palmyra, restored the supply lines along the south-north line. The morale of supporters of Assad has increased. That is, the fighting capacity of government forces has been strengthened and conditions have been created for the continuation of the offensive. This puts Assad among the full participants in the peace settlement in Syria. It is important that the withdrawal of the Russian group is prolonged for five months, which will allow, if necessary, to contain the irreconcilable opposition.
Another result is geopolitical: the expansion of Russian influence in the Middle East and the linking of Moscow’s actions in this direction with other principal issues of foreign policy dossiers. This is a request for resuscitation of the idea of a multipolar world and the growth of authority in the international community. At the same time, Moscow demonstrated and tested its armed forces in Syria, which are undergoing significant modernization. The portfolio of IWT orders tested in real business has grown.
The Russian military operation in Syria forced the United States to take an active stance to defeat the Islamic State, to decide on a strategy against the Kurds against Turkish interests and to become a co-sponsor of the negotiation process in Geneva under the auspices of the UN. That is, to go for something that Washington did not want and did not do for a long time.
The withdrawal of the Russian group will allow Damascus to be checked for the degree of political maturity that it should show in consolidating society and building a new model of state-administrative structure. This is a test of the political viability of the regime, without passing which helping Damascus is counterproductive. In addition, the decline in the activity of Russia in Syria should stimulate Iran. For Tehran, this is a test of strength, after which you can talk either about its defense against the growing Sunni threat, or about the start of a new round of its own expansion. Partial withdrawal of the Russian group will be interpreted by Saudi Arabia and Turkey as a signal to begin restoring its positions in Syria. It is necessary to wait for the strengthening of material and technical assistance to the militants on their part and the influx of new "volunteers." This will intensify the war with the irreconcilable opposition in key areas (Aleppo, Idlib, Homs), which in the conditions of Russian “passivity” will force Iran to strengthen its military presence. Russia takes a position on the battlefield, retaining the functions of the guarantor of the survivability of the Assad regime for an arbitrarily long term. At the same time, Moscow achieves goals by optimizing the costs of the Syrian campaign.
From mobilization to consolidation
According to American experts, the results of the operation of the Russian Aeronautical Science can be considered successful. Before the advent of the Russian air group, the situation on the fronts was deplorable and was not in favor of Damascus. Government forces lost almost all air force bases, while opponents of the regime seized Idlib and Palmyra with the threat of blocking the M5 route, which meant a break in the united front. They controlled part of the suburbs of Homs and Damascus, launched an attack on Latakia, prepared the encirclement and the capture of Aleppo.
Six months after the start of the Russian aviation the situation has radically changed. Militants knocked out of the mountainous part of Latakia and pressed in Palmyra. To the north of Aleppo, they managed to unblock the Alawite villages of Nubla and Zahra, which allowed squeezing opposition groups out of the province and complicating their material and technical supplies from Turkish territory through the corridor between Jarablus and Azaz. Optimal conditions were created from the military point of view for the final blocking of Idlib. The attack of the opposition near Hama was stopped. In the south, the strategic point Sheikh Miskin was captured, despite fierce battles.
Against the IG government forces acted successfully. In the south of the province of Aleppo, the Kveyris air force base was unblocked, the environs of Safira were cleared. The threat of blocking the M5 route has been removed, the situation around Deir ez-Zor has been stabilized. According to American analysts, during the time of the Russian military operation in Syria, the potential of the Islamists has fallen by half, they have lost the military initiative, and the territory they control is reduced by 30 thousand square kilometers.
The Americans note that Moscow did not limit Damascus’s air support, although it was, according to them, the key to success. The actions of the Russian Aerospace Forces were organized an order of magnitude better than the air forces of the international coalition led by the United States, both because of the precise tasks that had to be accomplished and in view of the well-coordinated coordination with the ground forces of the government forces, who constantly clarified their targets and directed them to aircraft. The use of aviation made it possible to destroy the infrastructure of anti-Assad forces, increase the risks for the material and technical supply channels, and force the militants to go into action in small groups, which minimized the possibility of conducting large offensive operations.
Russia supplied the Syrian army with modern artillery support, communications and night vision devices, which increased the level of coordination and control in general. Russian advisers participated in the development of operations at the divisional and battalion level headquarters. This immediately affected the tactics of government forces. Iran played a significant role. He also gave Damascus a large number weapons. Advisers from the IRGC participated in the battles and suffered serious losses, but the main Americans believe that Tehran was able to mobilize and send several thousand militants from the Shiite militias of Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Syrian fronts, who reduced the deficit of the Syrian army personnel. Now only Iraqis and Afghans are left on the battlefield. Hezbollah fighters concentrated units on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Americans note that the Russian leadership has taken into account the lessons of the US and Afghan campaigns that are bogged down in these countries. Analysts predict the imminent onset of an offensive by opposition forces, especially Dzhebhat an-Nusra and the IS. For them, a breakthrough in the dynamics of the development of events is a matter of life or death. It is important to understand how much aviation remains at the Hmeimim base and whether there will be enough of its capabilities to strike at the concentrated forces of the enemy. The offensive (or its imitation) is likely to begin in southern Syria to divert the Assad army, and the main attack should be expected in the northeast from Idlib. In case of failure of these plans, it will be possible to say that optimal conditions have been created for the start of intra-national consolidation. Tribes finally understand that the revival of the opposition can not be expected. Her success will bring the opposite result and break the truce.
US analysts are confident that Moscow will retain a sufficient number of aircraft for an adequate response. That is, she chose the tactics of optimal presence in the region, which allows not to get bogged down in Syria, but to purposefully and timely respond to emerging threats.
Pulling red line
The United States opposes the creation of autonomous formations in Syria, including in the north of the country populated by Kurds. The founding congress of the regional Kurdish-Arab administration of northern Syria opened on March 17 in the city of Rumeilan in the northeastern province of Hasaq. The forum, which was held under the motto "Democratic federal Syria - a guarantee of life together and the brotherhood of nations", was attended by 200 delegates. The representative of the Rozhava (Syrian Kurdistan) Idris Naasan said that the result of the forum should be the introduction of a federal control system in the territories controlled by the "Forces of Democratic Syria".
Damascus rejected this idea, not to mention Ankara, which threatened to intervene in the event of such a scenario. The Turks are ready to invade, even if the Kurds attack the city of Azaz and go through the Euphrates. Ankara is preparing for an intervention. The key to the motivation of Syrian Kurds is an attempt to exchange autonomy for participation in the Geneva talks in full scale. In the Kurdish PDS they realize that the idea of "federalization" will not be supported by any of the foreign policy players. But the task of participating in the negotiations in Geneva as an independent force can be solved in this way. If it works, it will be a significant contribution to the future autonomy.
For this purpose, this whole campaign is being launched, which is initially calculated as an attempt to force Ankara to allow the Syrian Kurds to negotiate in Geneva in exchange for refusing open separatist actions. At the same time, the PDS leadership probes the depth of support from the United States, forcing Washington to mark the red line of concessions on its issue and the degree of pressure on Ankara. The Americans placed these "flags", thereby telling Ankara that they would not support the armed intervention.
The Kurds made an alliance with a number of Christian (mainly Assyrian) and Arab opposition groups in the north of the country, which gave the White House reason to talk about the formation of the “Democratic Coalition”. The Kurds overlooked this: 80 percent of its "bayonets" are detachments of the PDS. True, they will not go further than areas of compact residence, but the experience of such activities is recognized in the White House as successful. Hence the attempt to create a similar tool in the south of Syria with the involvement of Bedouin tribes and Libyans. The likelihood of such a scenario is being worked out with the Misrata clans by a group of British intelligence agents MIKNUMX in Libya.
Neither Damascus nor the opposition want Kurdish isolation. It is connected with historical rejection of Kurds and Arabs regardless of confession. Damascus takes a cautious position on this issue, having previously advocated the representation of the Kurds at the Geneva talks. However, the situation can radically change. The Kurds began pressing on government forces stationed in Kamyshly and Hasek. Reached the armed confrontation. The Kurdish Internal Security Service has arrested several dozen Syrian soldiers on charges of organizing a provocation.
The PDS wants to control virtually the entire Syrian Kurdistan as soon as possible. But if he goes through the red line and does not listen to the Americans, he may lose the support of Washington. And then the defeat of the Turkish troops or supporters of the IG and other Islamists will be a matter of time. Although most likely the Kurds will not go for it, solving a limited task with an eye to Geneva. At least for now everything looks that way, although you can expect anything ...