De-escalation zones in Syria: who and why needs them


The decision to create zones of de-escalation in Syria has become one of the most important events of this week. Initially, as Al-Masdar, close to Syria's leadership, revealed the plan to create four security zones in Syria proposed by Russia. Later, during the talks between the presidents of Russia and the United States (by phone) and the personal meeting between Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan in Sochi, both the American and Turkish leaders agreed with the plan proposed by Russian leader. In favor of creating security zones, both Tehran and the official Damascus took the floor. Finally, on May 4, 2017, at the talks in Astana, representatives of Russia, Iran and Turkey adopted an official memorandum on the establishment of de-escalation zones. For the first time at the talks in Astana, there is a special envoy of the US Department of State (formerly the United States was represented by the ambassador of this country in Kazakhstan).

De-escalation zones against security zones

Earlier, the initiative to create security zones and no-fly zones, was brought by Turkey and the United States, in particular by President Donald Trump, argueing that it was necessary to protect civilians in areas  to terrorists. De facto, the implementation of these plans would legitimize unilaterally the military presence of the United States and Turkey in Syria and authorize a military operation to overthrow Bashar Assad under the guise of creating no-fly zones and security zones. The process similar to one conducted by NATO countries under the same pretext to defeat the troops of Muammar Gaddafi In Libya. The US missile strike on Syria on April 7 cannot be adequately understood, without the previous discussion about the need to unilaterally introduce no-fly zones in Syria, which has been going on since the inauguration of the incumbent American president. The Russian initiative is clearly aimed at seizing the initiative from Western countries and preventing a scenario that led either to the prospect of a clash between Russia and the United States or, if conceded, would demonstrate Russia's defeat and led to the loss of all the Syrian campaign gains, both material and symbolic ones.

Gains and compromises

Thus, by creating de-escalation zones, Russia avoids isolating itself, tries to seize the initiative, draw Turkey to its side, keep the Moscow-Ankara-Tehran triangle as the main decision-making center for Syria, marginalize the influence of the Arabian monarchies of the Persian Gulf, as far as possible, and helping President Trump to declare success in Syria and implement "his plan," while not losing anything.

De facto, taking into account the conditions set by the Russian president - security guarantees in the created zones are Russia, Iran and Turkey and the right for each of the three countries to send a military contingent there, as Vladimir Putin also said during a joint press conference with Erdogan , the zones created should de facto secure the legally military presence of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the region and the corresponding zones of influence. First of all, this concerns Turkey and the zone in the province of Idlib, which directly adjoins its borders. Russia and Iran, in turn, expect that relative stabilization in the area of security zones will help redistribute forces in favor of an offensive towards Racca and Deir ez Zor.

The creation of a zone de-escalation can be interpreted as Russia's decision to follow the path the States themselves have proposed. The US gains the reorientation of the forces of Russia, Iran and official Damascus towards ISIS, which Trump still considers to be the top priority Its Middle East policy. Such an approach is pragmatic because it allows us to start fulfilling the points of the electoral program to combat ISIS, which is impossible without Damascus and Moscow, and on the other, conduct this struggle without any agreements with Moscow that could irritate the republican establishment. Moreover, such an approach allows not to get involved in confrontation with Russia on humanitarian grounds now, but in case of failure, to blame Russia and Iran for everything as guarantors of the Astana peace process.

Israel and the Wahhabis against

At the same time, the monarchies of the Persian Gulf remain outside the framework of all agreements. That can disrupt the agreement by influencing the Syrian opposition. Indirectly, this has already manifested itself. Some of the oppositionists rejected the proposals of the Russian-Turkish-Iranian "troika". In addition, it is likely that the US expects more serious concessions.

Another factor of instability is Israel. The Jewish state is concerned about the possibility of the appearance of Iranian and Turkish observers in the region of the Syrian-Israeli border in one of the de-escalation zones in southern Guta. Also, the transformation of eastern Damascus into one of such zones in the opinion of Israeli experts can make it more difficult for regular Israeli air strikes against the Syrian capital and the Hezbollah forces there. Most likely, the Israeli lobby in the US will do everything possible to frustrate or change existing agreements.