The crew of a Russian Su-30 fighter prepare to take off at Hmeimim aerodrome in Syria. © Dmitriy Vinogradov / RIA Novosti

Seven consequences of Russia’s military operation in Syria

Alwaght-Russia is well aware that developments in Egypt and Tunisia were the onset of a series of political changes in the West Aisa. These changes included a wide-ranging spectrum of geopolitical and geostrategic transformations, introducing full-scale modifications in the West Asian region to the major players.

Moscow, moving out of confusion, division, opacity and passiveness which have been the primitive characteristics of its foreign policy towards West Asian fast developments, gradually adjusted to the new conditions and left its position as a passive viewer of the events to become an active player. In line with the recent circumstances, Russia has set a new strategy in which three geopolitical, security and economic approaches are followed up simultaneously.

Following its geopolitical approach, Russia is trying to establish a powerful bloc in the West Asia. The Russians are seeking establishment of a multipolar new world order, an idea making them consider Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia as countries of great significance in the region.

The Russian new foreign policy’s most important geopolitical goals are: confronting the US unilateralism, playing active role in international level, and presenting Moscow as a major global superpower. Consequently, on the one hand Russia would look forward to strengthening ties with countries like Iran and Syria which oppose the US policies in the region, and on the other hand it would seek to establish close and friendly relations with conventionally Washington’s allies such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Jordan.

Concerning the security part of its new strategy, Russia is worried that the radical Islamism could expand throughout northern Caucasus region and effect the Muslim-populated republics there. The risks of spill over of terrorism and religious extremism into the region could risk fueling separatist movements of some republics and regions like Chechnya which are now part of the Russian Federation.

Moreover, in terms of security, Russia is concerned about proliferation of the nuclear weapons in West Asia. This is why Russia, in a variety of ways, makes efforts to confront and contain the radical Islamist groups, specifically Wahhabism and Salafism.

Economically, being one of the major oil and gas exporters, Moscow has its own considerations and plans concerning the region’s countries, as it in many cases observes them as its rivals in terms of supplying energy to the global markets. In addition, Russia must coordinate and cooperate with the major regional energy producers and suppliers to control the energy market and fix the prices. On the other hand, expanding ties with the West Asian countries, specifically in energy sector as well as exports of arms and military equipment, plays a significant role in new Russian economic approach toward the region.

Intending to benefit from US declining influence globally, Russia tries to increase and develop its power economically further, and secure a key place in the West Asian countries’ sensitive economic sectors.

Having abovementioned notes in mind, seven consequences are expected for new Russian approach towards Syria:

1. Tipping the balance of power in favor of Syrian government

2. Weakening terrorist groups fighting against Syrian government

3. Resisting against establishing the buffer zone inside Syria

4. Convincing the West to recalibrate its policies against Syria’s future and President Bashar al-Assad

5. Boosting the Syrian army and people’s morale in the face of the terrorists

7. Encouraging the unarmed and moderate opposition groups to compromise politically with the Syrian government

Generally, it should not be forgotten that Russia will never put aside aspiration to restore its influence in the region. It is struggling to make peace in the region.

As Russia is geographically very close to the West Asian, through establishing close ties with Persian Gulf countries; on the one hand it could secure its economic interests and guarantee its security, and on the other hand, it could evolve into a powerful and effective player in the region. Confronting the US and NATO’s “the Greater Middle East Project”, Russia now, in comparison to the Soviet era, could take a more balancing and constructive role.

By Alwaght