Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

Vietnam Meeting Will Not End Syrian Crisis

This might be the last chapter of the Syrian war in the way we have known it for the past six years. But the Syrian crisis has further chapters. To put an end to the war, US and Russian presidents met in Vietnam.

They agreed on the failure of the military solution and on the necessity of a peaceful one. Also, Russian and Turkish president met earlier, while Iran and Israel prepare for the next phase.

The latest outcome of negotiations, led by Russians and UN envoy, is to suspend the direct fight between different parties in Syria. Most dangerously that this admission of the military solution failure will approve the geographical distribution of Syria among various foreign forces (Russia, US, Iran, Turkey).

The concept behind temporary division is that these forces would cease fire and later negotiate a final solution. However, the internationally-accepted positioning, even if it’s temporary, will nurture the regional conflict between Iraq, Israel and Turkey who are all preparing for the phase after stopping the war.

Satellite maps, published recently, show how Iran is establishing small military bases that extend from the suburbs in southern Damascus to Golan, not to mention military gatherings, which the Lebanese party Hezbollah established in other posts in Syria.

All these express near-future arrangements to impose a fait accompli despite the expected international agreement. The military existence of Iranians and allies, in this magnitude, is establishing a reality which danger on the region can’t be disregarded even more than Israel, which has a massive destructive military force and is an ally of US that vows to defend it.

Like the rest of the region, Israel underestimated in the beginning the Iranian infiltration in Syria. It considered that the civil war serves Israeli purposes – a sectarian swamp in which “Hezbollah” and Iranian powers get involved with “ISIS” and thought that they must have lost a lot of militants during the past three years.

Yet, even if major forces agree upon suspending fights, we should be worried about the new stage indicators of regional confrontations inside and outside Syria.

Israel sees “Hezbollah” as an advanced Iranian battalion that is part of the conflict over influence in the Middle East and is nurtured by the expected cease fire that will approve the presence of Iranians in Syria.

The Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) is establishing a long-term existence of its foreign militias and militants in regions ruled by it inside Syria, up to 50 kilometers from the Israeli border with Golan. Pictures show how the IRGC built a series of military bases to become support and funding centers and to represent an Iranian highway between Iraq and Lebanon.

Therefore, the new Israeli threats are against Hezbollah in both Lebanon and Syria and they aim to confront the new reality. In addition, the previous Israeli wars were waged against Hezbollah according to piled up weapons and expansion – almost every ten years.

In the Syrian file, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of the new reality, saying that “when ISIS is expelled from a place, Iran is replacing it.”

The reason is obvious, and it’s that the Syrian regime no longer has military capabilities due to its defeats.

Israel, Turkey and Iraq are states that share borders with Syria and are directly concerned with the solution details- such as which local and foreign militias control the situation on the ground.

Jordan would have also been threatened by the Iranian marching towards its borders from Daraa, if it hadn’t been for the US warnings.

Iran has no borders with Syria, yet it is the country with the most active military action and is the most expanding. If it hadn’t been for the Russian air support, the Iranian militias wouldn’t have expanded and wouldn’t have survived defeat.

This is the reality, which I don’t know how the agreement to end war in Syria will handle. The agreement only ends the existence of terrorist groups such as ISIS, al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, but will fail in ridding Syria of more dangerous regional militias.