Iran and Turkey seek to strengthen their influence in Syria in the face of an eventual Russian step aside for Ukraine

Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has given rise to a series of decisions by various leaders in the region and speculation about whether Moscow is going to disengage from its presence in Syria because it is too busy with the current war and the serious sanctions resulting from the conflict, and whether its place should be taken by other powers, including the US, Turkey and Iran, who want to fill the gap left by the Russians.

Although these kinds of comments are premature as long as Russia remains present in Syria, it is true that they have been registered significant moves in that direction since the Russian army started the Ukrainian campaign at the end of February, especially seeing that the campaign is getting worse and longer sine die.

A hypothetical withdrawal from Russia, like the one that some are considering, would have unforeseeable consequences

In recent years, Moscow has played a very important role in preventing the Damascus government from falling to the jihadists who had the direct and indirect support of Western powers and allied countries such as the United States. United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabiabesides Israel. A hypothetical withdrawal from Russia, like the one some are considering, would have unforeseeable consequences.

Syria is a main theater of clashes between Iran and Israel. The destabilizing activities of the Jewish state in Iran are permanent, as are its clashes on different fronts in the Middle East. Although his publicly stated goal is to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, his intention is to keep tensions at the highest possible levels in order to take advantage of his clear supremacy. military, political and economic.

Smelling that the crisis in Ukraine can bring changes, Tehran is stepping up its political effortsmilitary and economic in Syria, and recently opened a new line of credit to Damascus to mitigate the general blockade that Syria is suffering with the encouragement of the US and Israel, although it may not be in this order.

On the military side, there is information circulating that Iran is deploying its militias and related organizations in places that the Russians have evacuated or could evacuate, so that their enemies do not fill the void and threaten the continuity of the regime. For now, Tehran monitors the areas controlled directly by Russia, sending weapons to related groups.

Moscow has played a balancing role between the Iranian presence and Israeli military activities in Syria. It recently showed off the S-300 missile system to Israeli aircraft that regularly bombard Syria, which was taken as a sign that the Russians have no intention of abandoning the country to its fate, and also as a warning to continued incursions by Hebrew aviation in the neighboring country.

Tehran monitors Russian-controlled areas, sending weapons to allied groups

The second open front is the struggle between Turkey and the Kurds. It is clear that the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made multiple big mistakes since the civil war broke out in 2011, and has tried to right some of them, but in particular its Syrian policy is still wrong and there are no signs that it will change, even though it is making changes far-reaching in its global policies in the region, often with 180-degree turns.

In Syria, Erdogan’s central effort aims to dismember any Kurdish entity near the border with Turkey. Already in 2016 the Turkish troops left the east of the city of Aleppo to create a “safe zone” along the border and to cut off Kurdish contacts between east and west of the Euphrates River.

In early 2018, with the blessing of Russia, Erdogan prevented the Kurds from gaining access to the Mediterranean and the following year, with the blessing of donald trump, established a safe zone in the Euphrates area. All these steps were a consequence of his support for the Syrian rebels starting in 2011.

On several occasions Erdogan has expressed his intention to establish a 30-kilometre-wide “safe zone” in northern Syria, an initiative that until now has not had the support of the US and Russiatwo powers that for different reasons view the Turkish presence in Syria with caution.

Erdogan has once again put on the table the creation of the desired “safe zone”

But the war in Ukraine has changed some parameters, especially as it has reinforced the role of Turkey in NATO. Faced with the possibility of extending the Atlantic Treaty to Sweden and Finland, Erdogan has once again put on the table the creation of the desired “safe zone”, a measure that the Turks want to implement as soon as possible.

To complicate the situation, the jordanianswho have recently made some incipient gestures of normalization with Syria, have denounced drug trafficking that crosses their northern border from Syria, and which they attribute in part to an Iranian presence in the area. The truth is that on this border there are frequent clashes between Jordanian smuggling troops and drug traffickers, and that these activities strain relations between Amman and Damascus.

These movements return to center stage to Syria, and it is not yet possible to determine how the situation will evolve in the different sections. The development of the war in Ukraine, to which there is no end in sight, can undoubtedly influence decisively in one direction or another on each of the open fronts.

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