It's been a bad time for Russia after two of its jets have been downed. The first was a passenger plane downed in Egypt's Sinai, the second was a Sukhoi Su-24 warplane downed by Turkey near the Syrian border. However, the Russians still seem determined to avenge and win the battle in Syria.
They are now implementing a smart plan which is based on isolating the Turks, a key player against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. If they succeed, they may have the final say in Syria's future.
Russian fighter jets have heavily shelled Syrian-Turkish border crossings, as well as Syrian areas which Turks consider under their protection. The Russians have said they have destroyed militant border crossings, cutting the artery for trade activity which links armed groups in Syria with the world.
Without a political solution that grants hope to everyone, the war will not end - even if all border crossings are closed.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
This is not the first blow to border crossing activities. Jordan has previously suspended all border activities after Iranians began having a presence in southern Syria, particularly in Daraa. In Lebanon, the army and Hezbollah militias have almost completely closed off borders crossings with Syria. Iraq's Kurds followed suit when the battle for Kobane erupted. As for border crossings between Syria and Iraq's Anbar Province, they remain open; however, the Syrian opposition has not used the crossings as a means to add a foreign dimension to their fight.
Now that Turkey's capabilities as a central actor in Syria have been paralyzed, are we about to see the end of the Syrian revolution and moderate armed opposition groups, like the Free Syrian Army, and other extremists such as ISIS and al-Nusra Front?
I think this is a temporary relapse. I am not referring to the operational military aspect here; however, my opinion is based on the social and political motives which influence the war. The Syrian people are the ones who embraced the Syrian uprising, not foreign powers - as claimed by those who oppose the revolution. The Assad regime is reminiscent of Soviet Union era and Cold War era regimes, that have either collapsed or changed.
The opposition will live on and the Russians, the Iranians and the Syrian regime's remnants will not succeed at turning back the clock. Without a political solution that grants hope to everyone, the war will not end - even if all border crossings are closed.
If the Russians want to succeed, there is now a precious opportunity ahead of them as their ties with many major parties negotiating in the Syrian conflict are mostly positive. They can develop a solution that's based on bringing together moderate opposition groups, some community powers and remnants of the Assad regime.
The upcoming Riyadh conference paves the way for creating a united front capable of leading a new Syria without extremism or the elimination of minorities, and this should be of benefit to all parties.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 30, 2015.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
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