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Syrian Crisis Faces Turning Point with Disputes among Allies | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Free Syrian Army fighters carry a wounded comrade during clashes with Assad’s forces, near a crucial strategic stronghold outside Aleppo. Molhem Barakat/Reuters

Beirut-The Syrian crisis faces a political and military turning point with the international alliances reviewing their stances, particularly Turkey’s relationship with Russia and Israel, and the disputes between the Syrian regime and their allies expressed lately by head of Syrian regime Bashar Assad who had accused his allies, Iran and Russia, of serving their own interests in Syria.

The Syrian opposition currently sees the disputes, which recently appeared in Syria, as transitional, not leading to any big changes. However, this opposition carefully looks at the latest Turkish dynamic and the Russian “military hesitation” that it showed during the battles in North Syria.

With less witnessed Russian air support lately, Opposition forces were able to advance in several positions, particularly in the countryside of southern Aleppo, Raqqa and Latakia.

Spokesman of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) Dr. Riyad Naasan Agha, and strategic expert and professor at the University of Paris-Sud, Khattar Abou Diab, both agree that the international dynamic is still at its beginning, as this turning point would make the coming stage in the Syrian crisis clearer.

Abou Diab described what happens in Syria as a “crisis of leaderships” in the ranks of the states belonging to the “axis of resistance.”

However, Agha considers these disputes as “transitional” despite Moscow’s hesitations which is almost convinced that a military operation in Syria is no longer beneficial anymore, contrary to what Iran and the regime think.
Abou Diab said: “The dispute in the Aleppo battle was clear after Secretary General of the so-called Hezbollah party Hassan Nasrallah had said it was his main battle, while Russian ambassador in Damascus clearly announced Russia’s decision not to participate in it.”

Syrian military analyst Abdul-Nasser Al-Ayed links Russia’s disputes with the Syrian regime and Iran to the Turkish-Russian rapprochement that led to withdrawing Russian operations, particularly air attacks in North Syria.

Al-Ayed said: “Russia might be exerting pressure on Assad to reach a settlement in Syria.”

Al-Ayed told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the regime and Iran asked for Moscow’s air support in areas stretching from Daraa to the Turkish borders, something Russia cannot do even if it uses its entire aircraft fleet.

He said: “There was an Iranian political decision to enter the battle in Aleppo targeting Turkey’s position in the region. However, Russia does not have these same targets anymore, a development which led to a clear dispute between Russia and each of Iran and the Syrian regime, the reason why Russia is also absent in the Latakia battle, where the opposition has made an important advancement.”

Agha says that all parties agree that a solution to the Syrian crisis should be reached this year, however, disputes emanate concerning the means needed to achieve these ends.

He said: “The new Turkish policy will be in the interest of the Syrian case and will ease tensions in the region.”

Agha told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that a hidden competition clearly shows between Russia and Iran in Syria despite the fact that both countries agree on the long-term targets.

For his part, Al-Ayed said: “The Russians understood before Iran and the regime that the war had imposed certain scales, especially that nine months after it entered Syria, Moscow could not reach any important achievement, realizing that the war had turned into a gangs’ battle that no country in the world can win.”