Syria: Assad talks
Even tough the attention of the media focused on the fight against Isis in the North-East of Syria and on the liberation of Raqqa, there are some signals on the diplomacy side that foretell a new evolution of the scenario, with the entrance of new players, governmental or not.
Speaking to tens of diplomats in Damascus yesterday, Bashar Assad praised the help provided by Russia, Iran, China and by the Lebanese Hezbollah during these six years in blocking the “western conspiracy” orchestrated to topple him.
Moreover, the Syrian President said that he wishes to free the last stronghold in the hands of Isis, the region of Deir el – Zor, before the militias supported by the Americans can do so. Assad offered once again his support to Palestinians and to their cause against Israel, and he imposed the interruption of any relationship with the rebels as a condition for all the western countries willing to cooperate with Syria about security and to reopen their diplomatic channels.
Assad stated that there won’t be any role in the Syrian crisis for all those countries that won’t interrupt any kind of relationship with terrorists. It is possible to deduce, from these statements, that the Syrian President, empowered also by the diplomatic, economic and military support of his allies, stepped his game up in a scenario deeply changed since the Russian winter of 2015, since the Turkish turn of last August and since the determining role of Ankara in the Astana negotiates, strongly demanded by Russia and in which also Iran took part.
It was right during these negotiates that some areas were identified, confirmed also by the USA administration, where the ceasefire is in place. The so-called de-escalation areas are assumed to be strengthening themselves thanks to the role, well-accepted also by Israel, of Egypt, that in June and at the beginning of August, after the authorization of Saudi Arabia and Russia, concluded successfully some negotiations between rebel groups and the regime both in Ghouta al-Sharqiya (East of Damasco), and in the northern quarters of the city of Homs.
If on the diplomatic side we are looking at the entrance of a new and important countries such as Egypt, ally of Israel in the war against the Sinai terrorism, also the opposition side, weakened by the change of course of Turkey in August 2016, is going through a significant transformation.
The analyst of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, Hassan Hassan, let us know about a recent meeting in which took part the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel Al Jubeir, and a delegation of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the authority that represents the Syrian opposition in the meeting of Geneva. According to the reconstructions, Adel Al Jubeir showed to the HNC delegates how the International Community is far, anymore, from the idea of toppling Assad. However, Adel Al Jubeir himself encouraged the Syrian opposition to expand the front and to reunite the different components to foster its role in the negotiations.
There is also another element that, even if indirectly, could favor Assad in the current Syrian scenario. In the province of Idlib, according to the analyst of the Oxford University and expert of jihadist terrorism Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a real fight is ongoing between the most important rebel organisations, Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) and Ahrar al Sham.
The strengthening of Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (group risen from the ashes of al Nusra, the Syrian version of al Qaeda) didn’t only weaken and fragment Ahrar al Sham, group considered as an ally of Turkey and Qatar, but it also achieved an important victory pushing al Sham far away from the town of Bab al Hawa, the main frontier with Turkey. Even tough HTS claims to be independent, the International Community and the USA consider it as an emanation of al Qaeda. The conquest, by the HTS, of the province of Idlib could push away the last NGOs, worsening the humanitarian situation, and all these factors could also favor the international support to an offensive of Assad for the reconquest of Idlib.