According to respectable newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, Russia gave up on supporting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, which is why 100 Russian officials returned to Moscow last week.
As Asharq Al-Awsat reported, even during the international meeting, devoted to problems caused by the actions of terrorist groups, it became obvious that Russia will change its policy.
The statement of the head of the Russian delegation made it clear that the possibility of a Syria “after Assad” would make Russia to stay focused on its strategic interests as well as on the protection of minorities. This was an immediate sign of a possible Russian pullback.
Riyadh Tabara, who used to work as a Lebanese ambassador to the United States, explained that officials in both Moscow and Washington now work on finding the answer to the Syrian crisis, but leaving Assad out of the picture. She confirmed that Russia wants to make sure that the next political regime in Syria will provide protection of its interests.
Russian officials in Damascus played a significant role in providing the Assad regime with military supplies and political support. Before they flew back to Moscow, they worked with Iranian colleagues and Hezbollah officials.
At this moment, Assad has control over only 25 percent of Syria’s territory, Israel’s Channel Two said, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in London claims that 50 percent of Syria’s territory is in the hands of the Islamic State.
As Tabara explained, civil war in Syria resulted in contracting of Damascus’ military base and expansion of extremist forces, which eventually led to changes in Russian policy.
Other sources state that the possible reason for the changed Russian policy lies in the fact that Russia is now faced with economic problems and sanctions, due to its involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. Additionally, Russia is now in economic negotiating with the states of the Gulf, which have been the adversaries of the Assad regime for a long time.
Asharq Al-Awsat reported that Russians will work together with the Americans in order to define the details of a proposed transition period in Syria, as well as to discuss who could take the role of a supervisor of the transition.
Both the United States and Russia have an interest in establishing a stable regime in Syria, but at the same time they would have to coordinate any moves with Iran, as well as to take into consideration the interests of Turkey.
Their biggest challenge now is to help Syria to confront the Islamic State, and after that it will be possible to establish a post-Assad regime.