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Syria: Russian Moves Confuse 'Astana Guarantors'

Syria: Russian Moves Confuse 'Astana Guarantors'

Sunday, 26 April, 2020 - 06:45
A handout photo made available by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows Syrian President Bashar Assad (R) receiving Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu (L), Damascus, Syria, 19 March 2019.
London - Ibrahim Hamidi

Talks intensified lately between Moscow, Ankara and Tehran, the three guarantor countries of the Astana process, to restore coordination between them after it was affected by Russian moves in Syria.

“There are two currents in Moscow: The first is represented by the Defense Ministry and the military-intelligence apparatus and the other is represented by the Foreign Ministry and research centers operating with it. Usually, the Kremlin acts as a separator between those two currents and the side deciding which wins over the other,” a western diplomat told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday.

He said the recent media campaign launched against Damascus from several Russian newspapers or media outlets cannot be issued without a political cover, especially in a country like Russia, where every move has a motive.

The diplomat said three reasons are behind the Russian moves that shuffled cards between the guarantor states over Syria.

“The first is linked to the visit of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Choigou to Damascus, during which he called on Syrian leaders to respect the military agreements signed between Russia and Turkey over Idlib,” the diplomat said.

Also, Russia wanted to remind Syria of the Russian-Israeli-Us understandings to contain the Iranian role, particularly the presence of pro-Iranian organizations in the country.

According to the diplomat, the third reason is economic, saying that Russian companies and the Wagner Group, which is a shadowy mercenary outfit waging secret wars on the Kremlin's behalf in Syria, made several complaints lately due to the absence of revenues despite the Russian military intervention in the country, especially in shares of the oil and gas sectors and other economic deals.

Meanwhile, Iran expressed dismay over its absence from the Idlib agreement and the ongoing Israeli military strikes that were launched on “Iranian positions” in Syria.

The latest Israeli offensive against Iranian targets was marked recently when an Israeli drone targeted a Hezbollah commander along the Syrian-Lebanese border.

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