Sochi & the Russian Chef

By Nasser Qindeel

When Moscow launched the first invitations for the Sochi Forum for Syrian National Dialogue,  no one of the Western  powers, Turkey or Saudi Arabia  ever thought that  such a platform would become the Most significant path for the eventual political process in Syria. Equally so,  no one in the past had expected  Astana  talks to  evolve into a platform as equally significant as Geneva. Astana  talks, which brought  an array of   Syrian Armed  groups operated by the West, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to  take part under the aegis of Russia and Iran, soon grew into a significant process  parallel to that of Geneva.

Syria’s friends and allies  have often  viewed with a lot of skepticism the political vocabularies issued by Moscow  towards the eventual political  settlement in Syria. Most likely, many of these sceptics seem to have been under the influence of  the Western and pro-western “Arab”   propaganda  machine, which has relentlessly tried to portray Russia as someone ready to trade (sell & buy) allies once a “convenient offer” is made.

Contrary to these speculations,  the Russian performance  over the past years of the  on-going war against Syria has presented  enough evidence to say the following:

First, the Russian leadership with President Vladimir Putin at the helm, is  holding the reins of all  military and political  institutions. The widely rumored “chatter” about the existence of  some “lenient” vs “hardline” trends  within the Russian establishment have all proven to be inaccurate.  What we have seen so far is that all institutions  are demonstrating a high degree of  harmony and discipline and each of them is orderly performing their duties in line with a central  decision-making process, led by President Putin. It has also been proven that the Russian decision-making  process  has so far been truly  honest to Syria and to the alliance sealed with the Syrian State and Army. They do not trade. They do not buy and sell. Let us remember that so many “tempting” offers  have been made. All of them were rejected. So many  threats were also made and were equally  rejected.

The Russian leadership is fully aware that  Syria’s victory would serve Russia’s higher  interests, would reinstate  its  posture as a Major Power,  would serve  its security and strategic interests  and above all would consolidate  the concepts of  honesty, faithfulness and sincerity with allies. This is called  the revival of  ethics and moral values in politics.

The Russian experience in the management of both the war on the ground and the negotiations process  has demonstrated an impressive  example of mastership and proficiency. Here we have a professionally skillful  leadership knowing  how to accomplish military  victories and smartly masters  the  political game to reinstate these victories on the  ground.

They master the game of alliance-making. They know  whom to neutralize, whom to isolate and whom to  win to their side. The Russian leadership proved to be able to master the art of charting solid strategies that would ensure impressive harmony between the political and the military wings.

As far as the Russian-Turkish  relations in view of the on-going Turkish war in Afrin as concerned, we have to also bear in mind the Russian approach to  the “Kurdish” warfare as demonstrated  during the battles of Der ez-Zour and the al-Boukamal,  bearing in mind as well the US support to these Kurdish militias. All of this should also be viewed within the broader context of  the on-going war being fought by Syria and allies in Idleb  region. Then, we have to look  into the on-going  dynamisms taking place  in Vienna and Sochi.  If we do so, we would easily notice that we have a smart and skillful cook who knows very well  the ingredients  of the recipe, knows very well when and what to put something on the back burner and how to proceed forward to perfect the art of cooking. Hats off to the Russian cook. See, for instance, the fragmentation of the opposition. See the confusion and perplexity sweeping their  folds and options. See  how Sochi has become the major  path for the political  solution in Syria. If we look carefully at all of this, we would easily recognize the mastership of the Russian Administration.

Russia’s mastership  in managing the war and the negotiations in Syria has become a school and an “academy”  where military and political  arts can be best mastered in the international  game of major powers. It also demonstrates  honesty and decency with allies. There are surely some broad  margins for maneuvering. But there is an unquestionably mutual trust and confidence  between President Putin and President Assad. This  deep  trust is being continuously  consolidated since their mutual agreement on the political settlement to the Chemical issue and is continuously growing stronger  throughout all phases of this war up and till  the  present station of   Sochi. During these long phases, there have been some occasional “surprises”  and some  military mysteries that helped attaining some impressively amazing  victories and accomplishments all of which were based on this solid  understanding and mutual confidence.

Translated from Arabic by syrianfacts. The article was first published by the Lebanese “al-Binaa” newspaper on January 27, 2018.

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