In the first week of October, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a series of statements through Russian platforms on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Russian intervention in his country. Remarkably, these statements sharply contradicted declared Russian policy regarding basic aspects of the Syrian issue. This raises the question as to whether Russia is still following the same strategy used since its military intervention in Syria, which involves a complete lack of clarity and seems to have multiple interpretations, or whether it has actually entered into a deep disagreement with the ruling regime in Damascus and is unable to impose its visions and policies on Assad.
In late September 2019, skirmishes erupted between local factions from Al-Suwayda Governorate — the self-named “Al-Karama Forces“ — and an armed faction from Dara’a Governorate known as the Eighth Brigade, which is on the payroll of the Russian‑backed Fifth Corps. The recent tensions in southern Syria have revealed a feverish struggle between the Iranian and Russian influences in the region, which will crystallize during the coming period.
The visit of the Russian delegation to Damascus on 7 September 2020, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, and the meetings it held with regime officials, are of particular importance given the current pace of regional and international interactions on the Syrian issue. In addition, this visit is expected to constitute a turning point in the Russian policy towards the Syrian crisis, and to give indications of the directions of Russia’s policy towards the region, and the form of its relations with the international actors therein. This paper attempts to explore the nature of the changes in the Russian policy against the background of this visit, and the new elements in this policy.
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.
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