Can Arabs Change Russian Position on Syria?

During the Soviet Union era, the Arab relations with Moscow were mostly positive given their similar stances in many matters, mainly the Palestinian cause.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, vacuum was all over the Middle East which is geographically far from the union and the region was dominated by the western camp.

Chaos spread in Somalia, South Sudan, and later Iraq, Syria then Yemen and Libya because of this vacuum – not to forget the emergence of terrorism and the deterioration of security situation in stabilized countries like Pakistan and Ethiopia.

Regional countries are afraid of a competition between the two camps over passages and markets which would create tensions and wars. Later on, it turned out that the absence of international balance in the region could also create imbalance and even more dangerous vacuums. Struggles cannot be organized or framed.

With Russia’s recovery, it went back to playing a balancing role in our region and other areas in the world. We are currently witnessing the process of forming a new reality and it seems Syria is the main arena for Russia’s military parade.

I previously wrote about the Russian “mystery” during the early stages of its intervention in Syria. The truth is that Moscow’s position is still surrounded by mystery, something that is unjustifiable to many countries in the region.

Russia has a good relation with all Arab countries, including those close to Washington like Egypt, Gulf, and Jordan.

Trade exchange between both sides reflects the best stage of the history of relations during the past 50 years.

Cooperation is developed in crucial areas and for the first time, there is an agreement on oil production and pricing in addition to security cooperation in combating terrorism. This can’t be said about the Arab relations with the Iranian regime which is known to be tense on all levels.

I believe, that unlike Tehran, Moscow ought to change its position in Syria, and thus become the key to ending the crisis within a plan that appeases to the moderate opposition. This scenario must be preceded by convincing answers about Kremlin’s enthusiasm and insistence on supporting the Syrian regime and Iran in a greater manner!

It could be interpreted as a form of the revived rivalry between US and Russia. Russia’s attitude is an extension of its struggle with the west, and precisely in areas close to it like Ukraine.

Ukraine is a former country-member of the Soviet Union and Russia considers it as their most important state fwhich was stolen by the West during what was known as the “Orange Revolution.” Similar to the Arab Spring, during the Orange Revolution, protesters paraded the streets of Kiev three years after the chaotic developments in the Arab world.

This reveals Russia’s over sensitivity towards the revolution against the regime in Syria, despite differences between both cases of Ukraine and Syria. The conflict between Russia and the West is still on in a number of old zones of influence.

So is the Kremlin’s support of the Damascus regime part of raising the extent of the conflict with the US? America doesn’t really care much about the internal Syrian conflict as it is focused on fighting ISIS.

Russia’s willingness to tighten on US in their areas of control is understandable and can be explained as a response to the West’s activity in west Russia and east Europe. But we can’t consider Syria as an arena for proxy wars between both camps.

Several indications suggest that Russia is willing to reconcile with regional countries in Syria and reach practical solutions. This also could be accepted by the US which seems to be willing to be involved in the Syrian conflict more than ever.

US won’t repeat its only attack on Idlib in response to the chemical attack. Without a political solution, it is most likely for Washington to adopt the support of the moderate Syrian opposition in order to pressure Assad regime and Iran to accept a moderate political solution.

This development would further complicate the situation and prolong the civil war, yet Russia won’t budge of their current position and thus become the true peace makers in Syria.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

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. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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