EPC | 18 May 2020
The current dispute between the president of the Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad and Syria’s top businessman Rami Makhlouf constitutes a new variable in the policy of the Syrian regime and its way of dealing with the problems that erupt within the narrow circle of decision making. While Rami Makhlouf is not a political figure and has no specific position within the Syrian power hierarchy, it is no secret that in addition to being a relative of Assad, he represents a strong economic centre that owes its status to the significant role played by the regime policy. This makes him organically linked to the Syrian ruling system. This is evidenced by the fact that Rami Makhlouf benefitted a lot from the economic transformation that occurred in Syria under Assad the son’s presidency, that is the shift from planned to market economy which required the issuance of hundreds of presidential decrees to rehabilitate the legal and political structure accordingly. This paper sheds light on the background of the dispute between the two men and Russia’s position thereon in its capacity as the most influential player in Syrian policies.
EPC | 30 Apr 2020
The recent attack by Russian media outlets close to the Kremlin against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has raised questions about whether it was reflecting the inclination of the Russian decision maker. It constitutes an introduction to shifts in his attitude towards the Syrian leadership and reflects, therefore, on developments of the Syrian crisis in light of the crises experienced on the international scene (the COVID-19 epidemic and the fall in oil prices) which threaten serious implications for the global economy that would also extend to the Russian economy.
EPC | 13 Feb 2020
Russian-Turkish relations are put to a hard test these days. The escalating tension between the two sides in Syria's Idlib province and the countryside of Aleppo threatens to undermine bilateral cooperation and coordination on more than one front in war-ravaged Syria. Recent military developments have brought about a dangerous shift in the rules of engagement between the two parties, and have opened the door for potential direct confrontation. This is particularly true as both countries embrace contradictory positions in justifying their actions. On the one hand, Turkey believes that the Russia-backed Syrian army onslaught on Idlib and the countryside of Aleppo will push about a million Syrians to Turkey's borders, threatening Turkish national security. In turn, Russia is sticking to the implementation of the Sochi Agreement, which obliges Turkey to dismantle extremist organizations, as well as Turkey's lack of commitment to handing over control over international roads to the Assad regime.
EPC | 05 Feb 2020
Tensions are escalating between U.S. and Russian forces in areas east of the Euphrates, particularly in the Hasaka governorate in eastern Syria. These tensions are translated into scuffles between the two countries’ forces, as the United States tries to set the boundaries of its spheres of influence, while Russia seeks to expand its influence in that region. This threatens a collision, especially in light of the divergence in the two countries’ view of the final solution in Syria.
EPC | 25 Jan 2020
A new conflict is emerging along the boundaries of the “fourth de-escalation zone” (Idlib and the area surrounding Aleppo). All indicators suggest that this is a multi-faceted conflict, given the complex situation and overlapping interests. Although Russia and Turkey declared a truce, it lasted for no more than two days. While a security meeting was being held between the head of Syrian intelligence, Ali Mamlouk, and his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, in Moscow, at the same time the US delegation, led by United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey, met with the Syrian opposition in Istanbul.
EPC | 26 Nov 2019
Israel’s recent raids on — primarily Iranian — sites near Damascus and in other parts of Syria appear to be designed to show Iran that any attempt to launch missiles against Israel will be met with a much greater response that Iran may have expected. In return, Iran has changed the rules of its engagement with Israel by adopting the principle of “bombs for bombs”, and Syrian and Iraqi territories have become Iran’s preferred arena for testing out that principle in practice. Some time ago, Israel started to push back against Iranian positions in Syria and Iraq, which it now seems far more determined to do. This paper will examine Israel’s policies and strategies for dealing with Iranian positions in Syria, discuss how Tel Aviv is interacting with actors on the Syrian political scene, and identify the greatest challenges and opportunities facing Israel.