On September 8, 2020, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Damascus for the first time since 2012, accompanied by a high-level delegation. His visit reconfirmed Moscow’s desire to consolidate its gains and its military superiority in Syria and overcome the current deadlock in the quest for a political solution to the Syrian conflict, at a time when the Assad regime is facing increasing economic restrictions in light of Washington’s recent announcement that it would be increasing the sanctions imposed against the regime under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (known as the Caesar Act).
The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, Organisation for the Liberation of the Levant), formerly called Jabhat al-Nusra (Front of the Supporters), has been intensifying its messages to the international actors in the Syrian crisis with the aim of declaring its transformation into a "moderate" faction, and even a "national liberation movement" like many of the movements that struggle against the occupiers, requiring a response from the international community to this shift regardless of HTS’s ideology as long as HTS ultimately represents – as it promotes – a significant segment of Syrians.
The Eastern Euphrates region has been witnessing tensions between the Arab and Kurdish components that warn of the possibility of collapse of the fragile implicit rapprochement that was built against the backdrop of the defeat of Daesh (the Islamic State, IS), amid Arab demands to strike a balance in the relationship and interests between the two sides and the competition between regional and international actors to gain influence in an extremely important region at the geopolitical level in the Syrian file.
This paper sheds light on the events taking place in the Eastern Euphrates region and the interests and goals of regional and international actors.
The military agreement on the development of the Syrian air defence system, concluded between Iran and the Syrian regime on 8 July 2020, raises many questions about its timing and objectives and the extent of the capability of Iranian technology to compete with the capabilities of Russia that is the dominant party in the Syrian skies, in addition to the effectiveness of the system in preventing Israel from hitting Iranian targets in Syria. The agreement also raises a question about its repercussions for the existing balances of power in the region, its impact on the confusion experienced by the Iranian regime, and the shaking of its image at home and in front of the regional allies as a result of the attacks on Iran’s assets, whether in Syria or at home.
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