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Could We See a Russia-Brokered Syria-Saudi Thaw?

  • A Lebanese paper is reporting Russia organised and supervised a meeting between intelligence chiefs of Syria and Saudi Arabia
  • It remains to be seen if this will have any further effect but one commentator argues it could well be the beginning of a massive realignment in the Middle East

The Syrian people have had a long affiliation with Russia, and this friendship has shown its worth since the start of the violent Western-backed campaign against the government of Bashar al Assad.

While the continuing refusal of Russia to ‘give in’ to Western pressure for ‘regime change’ or for a no-fly zone, or other ‘intervention’ has served as an excuse to demonise Russia in the Western media and the minds of its audience, for Syria this refusal has been a life-line.

The official support from Russia at the UN and elsewhere has been matched by support from Russian media, which have found no difficulty in reporting fairly from Damascus.

The most significant support from Russia was following the ‘Sarin attack’ on Ghouta in August 2013, when the Russian proposal for the supervised removal of Syria’s Chemical Weapons stores offered a way that the planned NATO strike on Syria could be averted without loss of face by the US.

Since the Ukrainian crisis however, Russia has been forced to focus primarily on its own territory, and there have been fears that it might sell-out Syria to gain advantage elsewhere. Fears for Syria and her supporters, but hopes for some Gulf states and NATO members, who have sought to twist Russia’s arm to abandon President Assad; these states have constantly spread bad news that ‘Russia is distancing itself from Assad’ in the hope to make it happen.

And while Syrians and their supporters have never really lost faith that Russia would come to their aid when the chips were down, they will be greatly encouraged by this surprising news – that Russia has arranged a meeting between Syrian and Saudi chiefs to discuss a joint plan to fight terrorism.

This meeting took place a couple of weeks ago, when the Russian deputy chief of intelligence flew from Damascus with Syrian home security chief General Ali Mamlouk to talk to Crown Prince Salman and the Saudi intelligence chief in Riyadh.

Given the current state of affairs in Syria, where the ‘Army of Conquest’, a joint Turkish/Saudi force of foreign jihadis, has been wreaking havoc and disaster in NW Syria since March, the mere fact of this meeting is sufficient to note, but its significance is huge.

In the view of Ghassan Kadi, who has translated the details of these events from the Arabic ‘Al Akbar’ news, this could well be the turning point in the Syrian conflict. While based in Beirut, Kadi has many contacts with Syria and his analysis reflects a geo-political viewpoint which gives it great credibility.  It also reflects an intense desire to see the Syrian government and army prevail against the assaults from its multiple foes so that Syria can start to rebuild and recover from this four-year long ‘jihad’ against it.

While it is necessary to read the whole article, I think Kadi’s key points deserve repeating here.

He says:

“The significance of this extremely historic meeting is enormous. It has the potential to be pivotal in whatever happens from this point on. It is very important to note at least the following ramifications, corollaries and conclusions :

1. It confirms that the original anti-Syrian coalition has capitulated.

2. It is a recognition of Syria’s upper hand on the situation on the ground.

3. It implies an admission of failure on the part of Saudi Arabia.

4. It further reconfirms Russia’s role and commitment towards Syria.

5. It is a further proof that the US is disengaging in the Levant.

6. In trying to reach a deal between Saudi Arabia and Syria, the only remaining obstinate foe of Syria, Turkey, will be left out alone in the cold. In any future negotiations, Turkey will have to strike a deal of its own without the support of any partners to count on. This will prove very difficult if and when the intended safety zone plan in the north of Syria fails.”

He then adds:

“No doubt many cynics will look at this step with their regular short-sighted cynicism. They will argue it is a sell-out, just like they did with the chemical weapons deal.

Many will not be able to read in between the lines, and because this meeting did not conclude in any results per se, they will not see that the fact that is was actually held heralds a whole new and very bright chapter for the near, and possibly, very near future.

It is not unrealistic to see this meeting as the beginning of the end. There will be many hurdles to overcome, but the road is getting clearer and smoother for a huge victory.”

As Sergei Lavrov meets John Kerry in Doha, along with representative from the KSA and the Syrian opposition, there is little doubt that big changes are taking place over the Syrian conflict, and that Russia is at the centre of the move to find a solution, just as it was with the Geneva talks.

While our media are transfixed over ‘fighting ISIS’ but some of our allies appear to be fighting beside ISIS, if we want to know what is actually happening, Kadi’s blog seems a good place to start.

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