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Political scientist Vladimir Evseev - about how Russia's victory over terrorists of ISIL in Syria allowed launching the process of national reconciliation and save the country
Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived at the Khmeimim base in Syria, where he was greeted by Syrian leader Bashar Assad and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Being on the base, the head of our state issued an order to start withdrawal of Russian servicemen from Syria: “You are returning with victory to your native hearths, to your relatives, parents, wives, children, friends. Motherland is waiting for you, friends”.
The reason for this was that in the provinces of Deir ez Zor and Rakka ISIL (banned in Russia) ceased to exist as an organized force. The success of Russia in Syria has provided work in two main areas. On the one hand, the MSF caused significant damage to radical Islamists and helped the Syrian army and pro-Iranian armed formations to liberate most of the country.
On the other hand, with the help of foreign policy players, the process of national dialogue in Syria was launched. This allowed the creation of three zones of de-escalation: South in the province of Deraa, East Guta in the province of Damascus and one more in the north of the province of Homs. In the short term, the fourth zone of de-escalation is planned to be formed in the province of Idlib. There, the regime of reconciliation will be supported by Russia, Iran and Turkey.
Even more important now, after defeating ISIL, it is to launch a general dialogue. For now, both the destructive activities of the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as the lack of agreements between Moscow and Ankara on the separation of the forces of monitoring missions in the de-escalation zone in Idlib, the future of the Kurdish canton of Afrin, and the composition of the delegates at the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue are hindering this. Nevertheless, a compromise will be found, which will allow launching the process of the national dialogue at the general level.
Returning to the statement of President Vladimir Putin on the completion of the military operation in Syria, it should be noted that, firstly, it is not a question of the complete withdrawal from Syria of the Russian Armed Forces. The Russian Federation will retain its military presence in this country both at the Khmeimim airbase and in Tartus. Their functions will be adjusted taking into account the evolving situation. Apparently, now much attention will be paid to the training of Syrian military personnel, than to direct participation in hostilities, including by applying missile and bomb strikes against radical Islamists.
Secondly, President Vladimir Putin remarked: "Naturally, there may still be isolated hotbeds of resistance, but on the whole, combat work at this stage is over in this territory." Consequently, the Russian group in Syria will continue to fight the radicals, but gradually these functions will increasingly be shifted to the army and special services of Syria. At the same time, the Russian side will continue to conduct aerial and technical reconnaissance, provide air defense of the most important facilities, conduct electronic warfare and a number of other functions that the Syrian national army is not yet able to fully perform. Thus, Russia has demonstrated the ability to fight terrorists beyond its borders.
Thirdly, the position of the radical organization Jebhat an Nusra (banned in the Russian Federation) as a whole is substantially weakened. But it is not completely broken yet, which still requires the preservation of the Russian military presence in Syria.
Thus, the victory over ISIL allowed the Russian leadership to declare the termination of the military operation in Syria. However, the presence of the Russian Federation Armed Forces in this country remains, which serves as a guarantee of the irreversibility of both a final victory over the radicals in some perspective and the launch of a process of general dialogue, primarily on the basis of agreements between Russia, Iran and Turkey. At the same time, Moscow does not refuse the help of other foreign policy players in the person of, for example, Washington, Paris and Riyadh. Another question is whether they themselves are ready for such cooperation.
Author - expert on security and the Middle East, deputy director of the Institute of CIS countries, political scientist.
The author's opinion may not coincide with the editorial position