The search for a solution for Syria intensifies
In recent months, the United States, Israel, Turkey and a number of other countries have tried to take advantage of Russia’s distraction in a special operation to denazify Ukraine, in order to escalate the situation in Syria. and to pursue their own military and strategic objectives in this country, writes Vladimir Danilov
The United States is working to open a “second front” against Russia in the Middle Eastern country, pushing Israel to step up airstrikes on Syrian civilian targets, which have recently become a regular occurrence. One of the most recent of these hostile Israeli actions was the bombardment by the Israeli Air Force of the outskirts of the Syrian capital on June 10, with missile attacks on the positions of the Shiite groups fighting alongside the government army. The attack destroyed the runway at Damascus International Airport, killing and injuring people, and caused property damage to airport structures, disrupting the delivery of UN-sponsored humanitarian aid to millions of Syrians. On June 14, the Jerusalem Post, quoting Elaph, published a threat from a senior Israeli military source to Syrian President Bashir al-Assad to bomb his palaces unless he stops or reduces military cooperation with Iran on its territory (although the Jerusalem Post pointed out at the same time that the publication has not yet been able to confirm this information).
To express Russia’s growing concern over Tel Aviv’s aforementioned aggressive actions in Syria, Israeli Ambassador Alexander Ben Zvi was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry for an interview on June 15. It was pointed out to him that such actions were unacceptable and that the justification given by the Israeli side for striking the Syrian airport did not seem convincing. Therefore, Moscow is awaiting further clarification on this incident.
Russia, Iran and Turkey, as guarantors of the “Astana” process to resolve the situation in Syria, condemned the Israeli attacks by issuing a joint statement. It stresses, among other things, that Israel’s continued airstrikes on Syrian territory violate international law and the sovereignty of Syria and neighboring countries, threaten stability and security in the region and must end. The statement pointed out in particular that Israel’s use of civilian aircraft as cover for an aggression on Syrian territory was a flagrant violation of international rules and endangered the lives of civilians.
Even the Wall Street Journal admits that Israel coordinates a significant part of its strikes on Syrian territory with the US military, confirming the report with references to current and former members of the US administration. According to the publication’s sources, numerous Israeli operations involving strikes in Syria have been reviewed and approved by senior US Central Command and Pentagon officials in recent years. As the newspaper notes, through such “coordination,” the United States seeks to ensure that Israeli raids do not conflict with Washington’s own operational objectives in Syria.
At the same time, the United States itself continues to flout international norms in Syria by carrying out its occupation policy in this Middle Eastern country, where it finds itself without any legal basis in the form of resolutions of the UNSC or with the consent of legitimate Syrian authorities. The Syrian authorities have therefore repeatedly called on the UN to put an immediate end to this American policy and to the presence of American troops on Syrian territory. Especially since the United States has already shown the world that it is clearly no match for the fight against terrorism in Syria. In addition to Washington’s continued plunder of Syria’s oil resources, much of which is concentrated in the east of the country in the area controlled by the pro-US coalition Syrian Democratic Forces, the US military continues to kill civilians in the country. And this, in particular, is confirmed by the investigations of the New York Times.
It is therefore not surprising that the demand for the United States to cease its illegal invasion of Syria and for the United Nations to ban American occupation troops in Syria is particularly relevant today.
In addition to the actions of the United States and Israel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s intention, announced in May, to carry out a new special military operation against the Kurds in Syria, to clear an area of 30 kilometers along its border with the Kurdish fighters and to create a border security zone does not contribute to stability and security in Syria. Russia does not believe Turkey’s military operation in Syria will contribute to the stability of the republic, the Kremlin has said. Moscow is actively trying to convince Ankara that such action by Turkey would be “reckless” and is calling for the issue to be resolved peacefully through diplomatic means. No one doubts the ability of the armed forces to fulfill the tasks set by the leadership of this country. However, Aleksandr Lavrentyev, the Russian President’s special envoy for the Syrian settlement, said recently that such an operation would not solve the problem, but would create new threats to Turkey’s security. First of all, because neither the Kurdistan Workers’ Party nor the Syrian Democratic Forces will cease to exist and act against Turkey after such an operation. Moreover, such a military operation by Turkey could lead to increased separatist sentiment among the Kurds and encourage them to obtain a state, which is not in the interest of Syria, Turkey, Iran or Iraq. Under these circumstances, Moscow hopes that the Turkish leadership will be able to make a correct and balanced decision on this issue, taking into account not only the opinion of the countries that are guarantors of the “Astana process”, but also the attitude negative towards such a military operation from almost all the Arab states, which have expressed their disinterest in seeing another part of the Arab lands come under the control, in fact, of Turkey.
To clearly aggravate the situation in Syria and relations with Ankara, US special forces entered the town of Qamishli in northeastern Syria on June 16, which houses an airfield with army equipment. air force: Su-34 fighter-bombers and Ka-52 attack helicopters. . US access to the ‘restricted area’ has been provided by the Kurds, who control it and may indicate a US willingness to demonstrate its presence in the region, especially in the context of Washington’s current strained relations with Moscow and Turkey. . A few days earlier, the United States had carried out a special operation in Turkish-controlled territory in Syria near the town of Kobani: six US Air Force helicopters attacked a camp of Syrian militants, capturing a commander on the field, a key figure in an illegal pro-Turkish armed group.
Today, three-quarters of Syria is controlled by government forces, but significant territory in the northeast of the country (“Trans-Euphrates”) is occupied by the United States and its Kurdish allies. Turkey and its armed opposition control almost all of the north of the country, but two areas near the Turkish border and the highways leading to them are occupied by President Assad’s army, and Qamishli airport is one of the bases of the Russian military contingent. Recently, and this is acknowledged by Turkey and the Syrian opposition, there has been a significant reduction in Russian air force strikes on territories controlled by the Syrian opposition, where there has been some adjustment and stabilization of the situation and a fight against radical groups. Idlib remains a problem area, where 11,500 of the 18,000 fighters can be considered moderate, while 6,500 remain irreconcilable radical fighters who shouldn’t be there anyway.
To find a solution to the situation in Syria, another round of negotiations in bilateral and trilateral formats was held on June 15-16 in the capital of Kazakhstan, Nur-Sultan, with representatives of Russia, Iran , Turkey, the government and the opposition. of the Arab Republic. A UN delegation led by Robert Dunn, Senior Political Affairs Officer of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Jordanian envoys, representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross participated as observers. The parties discussed the situation in Syria, in particular the humanitarian and socio-economic situation, the prospects for resuming the work of the Syrian Constitutional Commission in Geneva, confidence-building measures, the release of hostages and the search for people. disappeared, and the creation of conditions for the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland. The next round of talks on Syria will take place this fall, Russian President’s special envoy Aleksandr Lavrentyev has said. Russia’s special operation in Ukraine had no effect on attention to the situation in Syria, Lavrentyev told reporters.
New Eastern Outlook, June 27. Vladimir Danilov is a political observer.