During his visit to the Syrian capital Damascus on 12 May 2021, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced the inauguration of the Iranian Consulate General in the city of Aleppo, located in the north of the country, with the approval of the President of the Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad, with the aim of expanding the scope of cooperation between the two countries.
Despite the attempts of the Kurdish parties in Syria to resume their dialogue, whose last round took place in August 2020, this continues to collide with the divergent priorities of the new US administration, given that Washington is the main sponsor of the dialogue between the National Unity Parties (PYNK) led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) on the one hand, and the Kurdish National Council (KNC, ENKS) on the other hand.
The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, Organisation for the Liberation of the Levant), led by Abu Mohammad al-Julani, seeks to reproduce its image through the shifts it makes at the level of its political rhetoric, or through the tactical changes made by Julani, both by appearing in a modern outfit, abandoning the stereotypical image of the Mujahideen (Holy Warriors), and by wandering in Idlib's markets, unlike the jihadi leaders who live in isolation from the people and reside in unknown areas.
Most of the interpretations have argued that this behaviour is as an attempt on the part of the HTS to reposition itself vis-à-vis the Syrian crisis, and to present itself as a moderate local player who deserves to be a party to the final settlement that determines the future of Syria. This paper tries to shed light on those shifts and determine their causes and the results expected to be achieved from them.
The competition over areas of influence between the Kurdish Autonomous Administration (KAA) and the Syrian regime in the east of the Euphrates developed into direct tension with the beginning of 2021, as the two parties exchanged sieges on areas belonging to the other side, or related to the environment supporting it in Hasaka (also Hasakah) Governorate. While the two parties, with Russian mediation, reached an agreement on 2 February 2021 to lift the mutual siege on their respective regions, the agreement does not constitute a complete and final solution to the outstanding problems between them, which foreshadows new rounds of dispute.
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