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Syria's political process deadlocked amid mounting Russian influence
15/05/2017 | LOC10:17
07:17 GMT
| Arab News
تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط
Roland Popp, a senior researcher at the Swiss Center for Security Studies (CSS)
Roland Popp, a senior researcher at the Swiss Center for Security Studies (CSS)

By Tamer Abulenain

GENEVA, May 15 (KUNA) -- Roland Popp, a senior researcher at the Swiss Center for Security Studies (CSS), has played down significance of the forthcoming 16th round of negotiations for Syria in Geneva.
Popp, in an interview with Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), expresses his belief that Russia has become in control of the Syrian file; not the United Nations.
The Syrian political process is at a deadlock due to the influential parties' abstention from putting a solution on the table, non-conviction on part of the Idlib-based opposition of the recent Astana accord regarding the four "de-escalation zones" and the Syrian regime's belief that it can carry on with the military option to the end, he says.
The German strategic analyst believes that Russia, through the Astana negotiating table, is plotting to drive a wedge between Turkey and the United States and put Ankara in a situation where Washington can deal with it unilaterally and separately.
Russia is also behind recurring infighting among the warring parties during truces and de-escalation periods, he says, alluding to clashes among the opposition groups in Idlib early this year, following a deal on cessation of hostilities, and identical violence in East Ghouta, on outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus.
Moreover, Russia with the "de-escalation zones" plan is apparently seeking to harmonize its approach on the crisis with that of the US, which has called for carving out "safe zones" in the troubled nation. However, Washington has shown no desire to be engaged deeply and on a wide-scale in the Syrian mayhem.
Popp believes that in the event Washington has decided to deploy large numbers of forces in the country and oust Bashar Al-Assad's regime, these troops will eventually find themselves sitting ducks of ferocious attacks by the squabbling Islamic factions on the arena.
Furthermore, in this vein, some decision makers in the West believe that the Syrian opposition, currently grouping factions of hardline Islamic ideologies, "is worse than the regime." Additionally, some "strategic quarters" in the US have been promoting the idea of dividing Syria into three entities, one controlled by the Sunnites, the other by the Kurds and the third by Alawites.
However, Popp believes that classifying the conflict as sectarian, pitting the Sunnites against the Alawites, is not accurate because majority of the troops in the armed forces are Sunnites. In addition, most of the Alawite political activists are power seekers, with secular and national orientations.
As to Turkey, it may be compelled to press ahead with the scheme to topple the Damascus regime or cooperate with Moscow and Damascus to undermine the scheme of proclaiming an independent Kurdish entity or State in Syria.
If Ankara chooses to coordinate with Moscow and the Damascus regime at this level, it will be compelled to halt flow of arms and logistics to the opposition in Idlib.
In the event this has taken place, the opposition there will crumble, coinciding with receding presence of the so-called Islamic State in other regions; thus the regime by the year-end may emerge victorious, Popp foresees. (end) ta.rk

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