Too many important events have occurred in the north-west of Syria in recent weeks. Of course, in the foreground there is Russian downed plane. Russia and Israel have opposite views, and this in itself is already a big difficulty. In addition, after the formidable statement of the Ministry of Defense in Israel, everyone actively discusses how to live now. Iran will remain an enemy for Israel, but what if Russia, embittered by the incident, will decide to fulfill some of its obligations to the Persians in the framework of the deal on cooperation in the SAR. It seems that the supply of the S-300 will satisfy Tehran to some extent. This is a problem of problems, but Netanyahu, I think, will find a way to get out.
This is not the only event. On the second place in importance is a whole province, namely Idlib. Its fate was decided by three countries – Russia, Turkey and Iran. The first two play a more important role. They discussed for a long time what to do, but eventually came to the fact that Turkey has been offering for a long time – there will be no war. Yes, Ankara did not want this war, because for it it is threatened with the greatest problems – here are the flows of refugees, and the loss of influence, and the aggravation of the economic crisis, not to mention the possible military losses. The Kremlin listened and reacted with understanding. In general, Idlib with the adjacent Afrina and some other parts of the province of Aleppo remains behind the opposition, but in fact, Ankara will actually be in charge there. At the same time, a demilitarized zone is already being actively created between the problem province and the government territories. It’s just wonderful, only here in Syria it was ambiguous.
Netanyahu urgently rushed to Trump to seek protection. What did they come up with?
The Russian reader is probably more familiar with the following version: “Damascus welcomes the Idlib agreement.” Simply, Russian media casually mentioned this in the course of interpreting the outcome of the Russian-Turkish talks. Well, the truth is there. The Syrians circulated a statement of their Foreign Ministry, in which this Russian-Turkish plan was really approved. But at the same time, in the same statement, the representatives of the foreign policy department of the SAR noted the fact that the agreement is “limited in time”. A couple of hours later, Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim said: “We do not trust Turkey,” but he expressed hope that Ankara will keep its promises. In general, officials are very reserved and almost do not comment on this.
What can not be said about the media? The problem is that just a day or two before the agreement, the pro-Assad publications actively wrote that there could be no peace with the rebels and terrorists. There was a certainty that Putin would refuse Erdogan if he began to offer something like that. But diplomacy has triumphed, and now some contradictions are felt in the articles of pro-government writers: apparently, they have not yet fully understood that now they need a peace agreement, not an unconditional victory over all enemies and a complete return of Syria to the power of Damascus.
Al-Huatan’s newspaper, linked with the administration of Bashar al-Assad in the first days after the meeting between Putin and Erdogan, already published, so to speak, controversial materials. In one of the articles it is stated that this agreement is connected with personal interests of Russia. Moscow agreed to the conditions of Ankara in order to prevent the future rapprochement of Turkey with the West. In the hard times of confrontation with the United States for it is very important. If Erdogan’s plan were rejected, of course, this would give rise to a new cooling in Russian-Turkish relations. At the same time, the author, putting forward such assumptions, tries all the same to “otmazat” Russia. He begins to list the advantages of the demilitarized zone and, in the end, claims that Damascus’ main enemy is the US, and in general it is now much more important to resolve the issue of territories under Kurdish control.
But that was only the beginning. Further in the same newspaper began to publish materials that openly rejected the truce. One of them, entitled “The militants rejected the agreement in Sochi with words and actions”, describes the continuation of the military operations in Latakia and Hama, which border on Idlib. It is noted that opposition fighters and terrorists do not hold peace and are going to wage war further, therefore, Damascus must act in a similar way.
Now, pro-government media periodically publish military reports from Hama and other regions surrounding Idlib. At the same time, the Syrian Arab Army constantly has to conduct some small operations. It turns out that there is no peace, and if we believe the mentioned military reports, now pro-government troops do not disperse, instead they are waiting for the peaceful population to leave Idlib, and then the offensive will begin. Somehow this goes against the peace plan. Is Assad really ready to disobey his senior ally and begin liberation of Idlib? Turkish expert Keram Yildirim believes that in Damascus they were really unhappy with the agreement, since Assad and his entourage were initially aimed at a quick offensive. That is why the main forces of the Syrian Arab army were pulled to the north-west of the country in the shortest time. And now this peaceful decision affects negatively even on the presidential rating of the population and, especially, in the military environment. Behind Assad, the fame of a weak leader and a non-independent politician can be fixed, because it has now become obvious that he can not take the most important decisions himself. However, he is unlikely to advance on Idlib, because he does not have the means to do this. Because he does not have the opportunity to use S-300.
The Iranian military and Hezbollah had to play a role in the actions of the regime in the north-west of Syria. But Ruhani supported Erdogan’s proposal for a peaceful settlement even before Putin did it. Iran now will not accurately provide its resources for this campaign. Russia holds the same position. Its capabilities are not so much for the regime. No more than thirty thousand soldiers, this together with volunteer formations. However, without Russian planes, Idlib will have nothing to bomb. Their planes are not suitable for such actions, and insurgents are able to repel attacks of this outdated technology. With such conditions, any offensive will be a failure. Political opportunity for this, too, no. Ally Assad will not allow this suicidal operation. But separate clashes with small groups of oppositions can not be avoided – they occur almost every day. But when all issues with the demilitarized zone are resolved, such incidents will be less.