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.