President Erdogan (left) meets with President Putin on October 22. Photo: AP.

Russia's achievements in the Syrian 'game'

Russia has recorded many results in its military intervention campaign in Syria, but can still suffer the consequences of competition and regional conflicts.

Russia is enjoying a lot of "fruit" in the fields of military, trade and diplomacy after four years of military intervention in Syria. Not only did the government of President Bashar al-Assad stand and recover most of the territory, defeat the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) rebels, Russia also strengthened and expanded its influence in the region, signing more and more large arms contracts in the Middle East.

Omar Lamrani, an analyst at Stratfor Research Center of the United States, said Russia has achieved unexpected results in Syria at a relatively low cost.

With a force of only 5,000 troops deployed in Syria at its peak, Russia has partnered with allies like Iran to stabilize the situation in Syria. The Russian air strikes enabled the Syrian army to counterattack both IS and rebel groups, protect two important military bases on the Mediterranean coast and gain access to some commercial interests in the this country.

The display of Russian air force on the Syrian battlefield has changed the world view of Russian military power, while helping Moscow play a greater diplomatic role in the Middle East.

President Erdogan (left) meets with President Putin on October 22. Image: AP.

Diplomatically, Russia expanded its partnership with Iran, shifting relations with Turkey from tense confrontation to close coordination and becoming a key force in the region where Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Arab. Saudi can not ignore.

Moscow also succeeded in forcing Washington to join talks on regional issues such as the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, despite Russia being punished by the West after the annexation of Crimea.

Militarily, the intervention campaign in Syria has helped the Russian army test new weapons, transfer troops to the battlefield to gain combat experience, expand the export market of weapons after proving effective. of them on the battlefield.

"The results are enormous, while the relatively low casualties and losses help Russia develop a 'limited action' strategy," Lamrani said.

Russia has also gained significant benefits through its presence in Syria since Turkey launched a military operation in the north of the country on October 9. After the United States withdrew most of its troops from the Syrian-Turkish border and discredited and affected allies, Russia became the only party that could negotiate with all countries and factions involved in order to Find a solution to the Syrian problem.

The image of a fleet of armored vehicles carrying Russian police forces taking over military bases left behind by the United States in a hurry shows the country's symbolic victory in Syria.

Russian police patrol Amuda city, northern Syria on October 24. Photo: AP.

Russian police patrol Amuda city, northern Syria on October 24. Image: AP.

The new position on the Syrian battlefield also helps Moscow become an indispensable mediator of all factions, including the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with the core of Kurdish militia and rebel groups. Ankara backing.

However, analysts warn that despite many tactical and strategic successes in Syria, Russia will still face many challenges ahead, because the Middle East has long been a "pan". fire "with a lot of conflicts, overlapping conflicts. According to Lamrani, the first threat to Russia now is that the radical Islamic groups in the region are emerging.

The vacuum of US power left in eastern Syria and the turmoil arising from Turkey's Kurdish campaign will be a favorable condition for IS to re-export. New extremists who have escaped from prison in northeastern Syria will also significantly increase the power of this terrorist group.

Other extremist groups can take advantage of this phase to accumulate forces, shifting their focus from Idlib province to other areas of Syria. Russia will have to deploy more troops and resources to Syria to cope with this trend, especially when anti-Assad rebel groups all consider Moscow an enemy.

The split between Turkey and the United States also poses some risks to Russia, as Moscow and Ankara are supporting the two opposing sides after Washington withdrew and the Kurds were pushed back from northern Syria.

The conflict hotspot is in fact in western Syria, with sides including pro-Turkish rebels and Russian-backed Syrian government troops. The confrontation between the two forces widened east of the Eupharates River, increasing the likelihood of fighting and leading both countries to dispute.

In fact, the Syrian army and Turkey on October 29 had their first clash in the border city of Ras al-Ain, killing 6 Syrian soldiers. If Russia and Turkey do not have timely interventions, such gunfights could occur more frequently, causing great casualties for both sides.

Forces in northern Syria as of October 23. Graphics: BBC.

Forces in northern Syria as of October 23. Graphics: BBC.

The break in relations with Turkey could also prompt the US to plan to evacuate 50 B-61 nuclear bombs from Incirlik air base in the country. If this happens, Ankara risks pursuing its own nuclear weapons program, leading to an arms race that destabilizes the region. Russia will be at risk, as more and more nuclear weapons appear near its borders.

Russia's strong position also makes it stuck in influence competitions in the region, especially between Iran and Israel. Both Moscow and Tehran are supporting the Syrian government, putting the Russian army at risk of being pulled into a violent vortex in case pro-Iran forces attack Israel and force Tel Aviv to respond.

In fact, Russia suffered a great deal when its military reconnaissance Il-20 aircraft was mistakenly shot by the Syrian S-200 anti-aircraft missile in an attempt to respond to Israeli airstrikes in September 2018.

Even if Western powers leave Syria, Russian forces in this country can still be damaged under air strikes against the Syrian army with the alleged use of chemical weapons.

"So far, the Russian calculations in Syria are still successful. With relatively small forces, Moscow has received many great rewards and became the most influential force on the battlefield. However, , the new position also comes with greater responsibility and greater risk, "commented Lamrani.

Duy Son (Follow Business Insider)

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