Tsarist performance on the Iranian and Turkish fronts

In civil and sectarian wars, there is no winner or loser and the hellish game will lead to everyone’s defeat

Ghassan Imam
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In the Russian circus, President Vladimir Putin performed a tsarist number, while riding both the Iranian and Turkish horses. His Syrian subject ran after him, searching again for his fate and future. The representative of the popular American school, Donald Trump, was also invited to attend Putin’s performance.

The tsarist number was rendered in Astana, Kazakhstan. It represented a peaceful Russian turn in its policies regarding the Syrian war that Putin has waged in the last two years. Putin tried a truce at the end of last year that the UN agreed on, without being involved in its execution.


In civil and sectarian wars, there is no winner or loser. The hellish game leads to everyone’s defeat. This is what is happening in Syria. However, at one stage of this long war, some of the parties involved will imagine that they have triumphed over the others.

In the current tsarist phase, the Iranian black horse considered himself the winner of the Battle of Aleppo, in which its militias participated, as well as the battle of both the Eastern and Western countryside of Damascus, where Bashar took advantage of the truce to expand the borders of the capital against moderate religious organizations.

Although these organizations have, in turn, exploited the Aleppo war that they have lost to expand the countryside areas of Homs and Hama in central Syria, Iran has exaggerated in assessing the gains.

The Iranian showoff somehow reached the extent of imposing veto on the participation of Arab countries in sponsoring Astana meet. It seems that the tsar has agreed on the Iranian condition, even if it would mean locking up the Russians under Iranian cover that it is trying to put up with the secular plan for Syria drawn by the tsar.

Would the Turkish participation in the Russian festival be enough to act on behalf of the official participation of Arab countries in a conference that has a sole mission of addressing an Arab issue? It seems that Gulf regimes are not even willing to participate in a conference that does not fall under the legitimacy of the United Nations.

They have also allowed the moderate Syrian armed opposition to participate in the conference. Turkey has also asked the Syrian oppositions under its control to attend it for the sake of Russia that organized this festival.

The half pessimistic half optimistic vision is based on the idea that the Sunni religious and political bloc has lost the war for several reasons: first, its political and armed organizations have given up their Arab identity, which encouraged the Kurds to split in northeastern Syria, neighboring Iraq and Turkey

Ghassan Imam

A secular democracy?

I will ask once again if the black Iranian horse accepted the Russian/international settlement of the war in Syria on the basis of a secular democracy and not a religious one? It is obvious for a secular country to reject this settlement. It might think that it is able to tip it over through 15,000 militiamen in Syria, including Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah’s mercenaries.

This means that Russia and Iran are moving toward a conflict of interests and ideologies in Syria. Russia will not accept any Iranian role that would destabilize the peace that it is trying to impose in this Arab country. Even its close comrade Trump will not accept to “burry Syria”.

This is perhaps why Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, called upon Saudi Arabia at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to make peace with Iran. He was responding to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir who said that it was unlikely for Iran to restore peace with Arab countries, after its continuous violation of Gulf, Syrian and Yemeni sovereignty.

How can the Iranian minister fall for this great contradiction between his peacemaking position in Davos and the position of the Iranian horse refusing the participation of Gulf states in Astana Festival?! This would perhaps reveal the Iranian policy towards the peace in the region and the international settlement in Syria and Yemen.

Amid all these questions, it is also logical to ask if Russia’s peaceful turn will be able to achieve a political settlement in Syria, in collaboration with the United Nations? The answer is that there are some who are optimistic about the Russian initiative relying on its air and ground forces abilities.

Also, there are some who are pessimistic and they only see the empty half of the cup. Then there are those who are half pessimistic half optimistic, who are observing the Iranian map in Syria.

The half pessimistic half optimistic vision is based on the idea that the Sunni religious and political bloc has lost the war for several reasons: first, its political and armed organizations have given up their Arab identity, which encouraged the Kurds to split in northeastern Syria, neighboring Iraq and Turkey.

The brutality of raids

In fact, the Syrian armed groups were not serious in the fighting. They failed to recruit tens of thousands of young Syrians, they limited themselves to their areas exposing their small troops to the brutality of the Syrian and Russian raids. Finally, these organizations turned away all Sunni and Christian communities due to their conservative religious practices. As for ISIS and Nusra, the Arab regimes and Sunni religion are all against them because they misinterpreted the Sharia and Arab civilization.

All of these reasons that are threatening the cohesion of the Sunni Arab bloc in Iraq and Syria, are on one side, and the Shiite settlement is on the other side. Armed Sunni communities are now being displaced to Idlib; they are being targeted by Russian and Syrian aircraft.

The main reason behind this displacement is to provide a place for Afghan and Iraqi Shiite militias in two regions: Qalamoun that is adjacent to the Shiite region in Lebanon and the besieged villages of Damascus eastern and western countryside. In the countryside of Damascus, they have also seized the shrine of Sayeda Zeinab, granddaughter of the prophet.

Those who observe the Shiite settlements map will see that there is a determination in establishing Shiite settlements in the heart of the Sunni regions, because there is near absence of Shiites in Syria. Iran is aware of the impossibility of occupying Syria, so it resorted to the sectarian settlements.

I am highlighting the sectarian Shiite project that is currently prevailing in the Arab Mashreq, to ask if the Alawite community (that was rejected in Khomeini’s Iran) will accept the Shiite settlements against it in Syria?

If the Alawites accepted, will Putin accept to receive the long awaited Mehdi in Syria, on the Black Iranian Horse while still claiming that the peaceful solution in Syria will be secular and won’t accept a sectarian settlement or a religious regime?

If he accepts Iranian role in Syria, would Trump also accept it, especially that he will be reviewing the nuclear deal between Obama’s administration, Europe and Iran?

This article is also available in Arabic.
Ghassan Imam is a Syrian journalist and writer.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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