Moscow in Syria is to undermine West, not to support Assad, Belarusian experts say

Afghan village after Soviet attack (Image: nr2.com.ua)

Afghan village after Soviet attack (Image: nr2.com.ua) 

2015/12/14 • Analysis & Opinion, Military analysis, Russia

Moscow’s primary goal in Syria is not to support its ally Bashar Assad against all challenges but rather to destabilize the situation in the Middle East, undercutting the influence of the West and boosting its own; and to that end, it will be quite prepared to sacrifice the Syrian dictator, according to Belarusian security analysts.

The Mensk Center for Strategy and Foreign Policy Research has prepared a new report entitled “Looking at Syria One Sees Afghanistan,” an advance copy of which has been obtained and is reviewed today by US-based Russian analyst Kseniya Kirillova for Novy Region-2.

Kseniya Kirillova, Journalist

Kseniya Kirillova, journalist

Moscow has chosen to get involved in Syria, the report says, as part of its “multi-goal and many-layered game connected with an increase of its own critical influence on geopolitical processes not only in Syria but also in the Middle East as a whole” – and that region is understood to include Central Asia and Afghanistan as well.

Moscow’s moves “are not connected with unqualified support for Bashar Assad and a war with ISIS toward the latter’s total destruction.” Instead, “Moscow is maintaining contacts with all the sides and forces in the conflict both in Syria itself and also beyond that country’s borders.”

It is “already obvious,” the Belarusian experts say, that “Russia is exerting influence on Bashar Assad with the goal of forcing him” to accept elections, constitutional reform and his eventual exit. When the Russian government has achieved as much as it can from the crisis, they add, “the Kremlin will exit the Syrian crisis in order to destabilize other states.”

The Belarusian security analysts suggest that Russia has three “basic goals” in Syria:

  • destabilization of the region to boost the price of oil,
  • distracting the West’s attention from Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and Central Asia and to “legitimate its own right to any action in its ‘sphere of influence,’” and
  • weakening “to the maximum extent possible” the position of the United States.

“The ‘Islamic State’ does not represent a serious threat to Moscow either in the Middle East or in Central Asia,” they argue. Instead, given Moscow’s ties with many in that group, “Moscow’s relations with ‘the caliphate’ must be recognized as extremely varied and hardly hostile.”

The course of the Russian military campaign in Syria convincingly shows that the Islamic State is benefiting from the actions of the Russian armed forces if anything more than anyone else in the region, including the regime of Bashar Assad.

The security analysts say that “the course of the Russian military campaign in Syria convincingly shows that the Islamic State is benefiting from the actions of the Russian armed forces if anything more than anyone else in the region, including the regime of Bashar Assad.” Indeed, Moscow needs both the Sunni-Shiia conflict and ISIS itself for its own purposes.

“In the existing situation,” the report says, “Moscow has obtained a unique chance to play on the mutual contradictions of the key players” and not only advance its interests in the Middle East but create problems for the West in what is a “strategically more important” region for Russia, Central Asia.

This image from the Russian Defense Ministry shows a Russian Air Force bomb hitting a target in Syria. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the UN that Russian air strikes killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Image: AP)

This image from the Russian Defense Ministry shows a Russian Air Force bomb hitting a target in Syria. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the UN that Russian air strikes killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Image: AP)

There Moscow is taking steps to “destabilize the region with the goal of undermining Chinese influence, provoke more active moves by Beijing, and thus destroy mutual trust between the US and China.” And related to that, Moscow is also working to destabilize Afghanistan by promoting “situational” alliances between parts of the Taliban and ISIS.”

“The destabilization of Afghanistan is needed by Moscow also for the formation of a general unstable milieu in the region and for more focused actions toward Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, the significance of which is difficult to overstate in the context of Chinese-American relations.”

While it is taking all these steps, the Belarusian analysts say, Moscow is continuing to put pressure on Mensk to open a Russian base and to ensure that it retains “the military option of solving the Ukrainian issue.” Taken together, such moves “threaten the existence of the current architecture of international security” and open the door to “’a multi-polar cold war.’”

  • A Russian massacre of Syrian school children. Damascus, Syria, December 2015. (Image: Social media)
    A Russian massacre of Syrian school children. Damascus, Syria, December 2015. (Image: Social media)
  • A Russian massacre of Syrian school children. Damascus, Syria, December 2015. (Image: Social media)
    A Russian massacre of Syrian school children. Damascus, Syria, December 2015. (Image: Social media)
  • A Russian massacre of Syrian school children. Damascus, Syria, December 2015. (Image: Social media)
    A Russian massacre of Syrian school children. Damascus, Syria, December 2015. (Image: Social media)
  • A Russian massacre of Syrian school children. Damascus, Syria, December 2015. (Image: Social media)
    A Russian massacre of Syrian school children. Damascus, Syria, December 2015. (Image: Social media)
  • A Russian massacre of Syrian school children. Damascus, Syria, December 2015. (Image: Social media)
    A Russian massacre of Syrian school children. Damascus, Syria, December 2015. (Image: Social media)
  • A victim of Russian bombing in Syria (Image: social media)
    A victim of Russian bombing in Syria (Image: social media)
  • A victim of Russian bombing in Syria (Image: social media)
    A victim of Russian bombing in Syria (Image: social media)
  • A victim of Russian bombing in Syria (Image: social media)
    A victim of Russian bombing in Syria (Image: social media)
  • A victim of Russian bombing in Syria (Image: social media)
    A victim of Russian bombing in Syria (Image: social media)
  • A victim of Russian bombing in Syria (Image: social media)
    A victim of Russian bombing in Syria (Image: social media)
  • Victims of Russian bombing in Syria. December 2015 (Image: Social media)
    Victims of Russian bombing in Syria. December 2015 (Image: Social media)

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Being

    Yes, but such a things must know CIA, FBI, EU and all their secret services+inteligence, everyone bit normal and still they let Putin and Kremlin do what they want to.
    Idiotic West leaders. Should be in lunatic house to cure themself.

    • Quartermaster

      Western “leaders” are both incompetent and lazy. trade with Russia is far more important to them than freedom and peace. All of them have allowed their military power to shrink and are truly scared they just might have to fight.

  • Chris

    Isn’t the main photo a scene from the movie 9th Company?!