The article by M.K. Bhadrakumar (MK Bhadrakumar), a former diplomat who worked for the 29 years in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India, published in the newspaper Asia TimesA number of assumptions are being considered regarding the meeting of the ministers of defense of Iran, Russia and Syria in Tehran, held in June, and the further general strategy of Damascus, Tehran and Moscow to combat terrorists in Syria.
According to the expert, the last ministerial meeting "raises more questions than answers." Almost everything that is known about this event is borrowed from the comments of Iranian Defense Minister General Hossein Dehqan. His statements quoted Iranian media.
Mr. Dehkan stressed that the meeting in Tehran summed up the conflict in Syria from a strategic point of view. He highlighted a number of key points.
1. The main cause of the Syrian conflict was the "expansionist and aggressive" policy of the United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel and some other states in the region.
2. According to the military official, the United States and its regional allies were playing a dishonest game, portraying the fight against terrorism.
3. A “dangerous move” is being launched, aimed at destabilizing the region, inciting separatism and undermining the national sovereignty of Syria.
4. Agenda for Iran: consistent continuation of the "total struggle against terrorism."
5. In Iran, they discussed the need to adopt a strategy that would include “decisive, quick, inclusive and coordinated actions” against terrorist groups.
The meeting in Tehran, about which the minister spoke, took place against the background of rumors: that the Russian and Iranian approaches to the Syrian situation do not converge. Recently, some Iranian media have even criticized Russia's position: allegedly Moscow has no longer been conducting such active military operations in Syria as before.
What does Moscow say in response? It is also known very little. Regarding the meeting in Tehran, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation announced that the event discussed "priority measures to strengthen cooperation" in the fight against extremist groups and "security initiatives" aimed at preventing jihadist groups from conducting larger operations.
However, in the same June one “intriguing comment” from the Russian information agency Sputnik appeared. Its author analyzed the balance of power in Syria. The analysis indicates that the Syrian government forces are at the limit of their capabilities, and therefore it is not necessary to wait for the inevitable military victory in Rakka or Aleppo.
As MK Bhadrakumar notes, this commentary gives the following estimate of the attack on Rakka.
Racca is a large city with a population of 200.000 people. This alone poses great difficulties before any attempted attack. In addition, Daesh fighters have seriously strengthened their positions throughout the city. Finally, the third problem is the lack of both army and militia forces. Yes, now the most combat-ready army units and popular forces are deployed in the direction of Raqqa (including tank brigade and brigade of special operations forces), but their number, as well as their combat capabilities, is difficult to assess.
As for the effectiveness of Russian actions from the air, during the alleged attack of the city, it would be significantly reduced compared with the “active phase of the Russian campaign”. The fact is that airplanes are already working at the limit of the combat range.
And it is unlikely that the Syrian army will take full control of the local military airfield. But even so. If the airfield passes into the hands of the Syrian army, the militants of “Daesh” will be able to fire at it.
In residential areas to cause air strikes will be impossible.
In such a situation, when the Syrians also lacked personnel, the attack could take up to several months.
To some extent, similar estimates are given and the situation in the Aleppo area. The commentary notes that the best units of the Syrian troops have already been transferred to Raqqah, and the communication lines and supply system for Aleppo are excessively stretched.
The attack on Raqqa could be a good propaganda exercise, but it is fraught with heavy losses of both time and resources. In addition, on several other fronts, the situation "may worsen at any moment."
What conclusions does an expert make from this?
Against the background of the "fanatical speeches" of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria (for example, his recent statements in parliament in Damascus, where he called for a complete military victory), Russian analysts tend to take a sober and realistic assessment of the situation.
It goes without saying, the Asia Times writes, that the Kremlin does not share the enthusiasm and confidence of Tehran and Damascus about the situation. Simply put, Russia avoids risk, while Damascus and Tehran are eager to fight.
Moscow prefers a cease-fire, and this is understandable, MK Bhadrakumar believes. However, Iran and Syria are convinced that the ceasefire agreement only helps the opposition to regroup and even return some territories that were lost earlier.
In fact, the expert is sure that it was Russia's support that allowed the Syrian government to strengthen control over most of Damascus, Homs and Hama and gain control over the territories around Aleppo. The Assad regime is too tough to deal a decisive blow to the opposition, with the exception of the western regions of the country.
Accordingly, it was Russia, and not the Assad government, who would have to shoulder the heavy burden of control over the whole country. Moscow is showing a reluctance to bear such a burden, the analyst points out.
From the speech of Dehkan, it also becomes clear that Tehran is clearly afraid of Moscow’s aspirations to maintain working relations with the United States and Israel. Moscow is in favor of adhering to the ceasefire in Syria and is actively promoting communication through communication channels between the Assad government and opposition commanders for the de-escalation of the conflict at the local level.
In other words, Russia focuses on negotiations on the cessation of hostilities and the intra Syrian dialogue on the future of the Syrian state.
And what will happen next? Great question! Iran and Syria should be extremely careful: after all, the United States and its allies may have a backup plan. Russia can also be trapped in the American trap. It is already clear that the next political step with the participation of external players in Syria will be the transfer of powers of local authorities to the Syrian factions from both the government and the opposition. According to the publicist, there are already signs that the military and political situation is moving in this direction. The recent arrival of British and French special forces fully proves the “expectation” of such a decentralization process in Syria.
Of course, Tehran and Damascus see the de facto partition of Syria by external forces. And they "will not accept it". But Moscow seems to be pulling the cat by the tail. Why so? Yes, because, from the point of view of Russia, cooperation with the United States presents a tempting prospect of opening a broader dialogue with Washington. Moscow wants to relax tensions between the two countries.
Recent ones news they say, however, that it is not Russia that is making concessions to the United States, but vice versa. And the source of this opinion is the brain trust “Stratfor”.
As noted by RIA News", intelligence and analytical company Stratfor believes that the United States is forced to make a number of concessions to Russia.
On Thursday last week, it was reported that Barack Obama proposed Moscow to conclude a new agreement on military cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Syria. The US authorities promised to join forces with the Russian Aerospace Forces for better coordination in the fight against the Dzhebhat al-Nusra militants. What in return? The White House wants Russia to convince Assad to stop bombing the rebels, who are supported by the United States.
Stratfor analysts, who reviewed these initiatives, are convinced that the White House’s proposal is an American attempt to avoid further escalation in Syria. Experts also point out that such a proposal involves the assignment of the White House to the Kremlin in the form of active cooperation with the Russian military, up to the exchange of data on targets. Earlier, Moscow demanded such a concession from the Americans, wanting to put an end to isolation. Earlier, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter even spoke against such a concession.
US administration officials, noted in the Washington Post, they now claim that they have no choice but to negotiate with Putin. Apparently, the editorial board of the influential newspaper regrets that Mr. Obama is “determined” not to learn from his tragic mistakes in Syria.
You can also assume, we add that the peacemaker Obama suddenly remembered his Nobel Peace Prize. And finally got sick to get involved in the war in Syria. By the end of the presidential career, you can even spit on the budgetary appetites of the military-industrial complex, isn't it? Obama managed to “end up” the war in Syria almost to the end of his term on the throne. In January 2017, he will leave the Oval Office. But the next president will have to disentangle the soup he has cooked with a full spoon. Or the next presidency.
Observed and commented on Oleg Chuvakin
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