Assad selling Syria to Russia and Iran

Yunus Paksoy 2017-01-21 12:00:00

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It is a fact that the brutal Bashar Assad regime could have been fallen a long time ago had it not been for the deadly efforts of Russia and Iran on the Syrian ground and sky. The bloody war campaign being waged by Assad has been bolstered by the Kremlin and Tehran. Russia’s intervention in Syria in September 2015 proved to be a turning point in the course of events in the country. Also, the presence of Iran-backed extremist Shiite militias in Syria played a key role in keeping Assad in place. 

Following the fall of Aleppo in late December 2016, Assad said that the fall of the city was a “victory” for his Russian and Iranian allies as much as his own.

Russian and Iranian flags are flown high in the sky in areas controlled by the regime. It must be shameful and saddening for millions of Syrians to see such a scene in their homeland. However, Assad sees no shame in his actions.

The Assad regime recently inked deals with Iran on issues varying from communication to energy as well as petroleum. The regime and Tehran agreed on five deals which include a licence for a mobile phone operator, the transfer of 5,000 hectares for the creation of a petrol terminal and 5,000 hectares for farmland in Syria. As part of the deal, Iran will have a right to operate phosphate mines in Syria as well.

Assad sold parts of Syria and the future of millions of young Syrians to Iran just to remain in his post.

Iran will take part in the upcoming Astana talks in Kazakhstan as well. The peace talks, which were brokered by Turkey and Russia, are expected to bring the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime together for a solution in the country.

We can easily speculate that Iran has been making deals with the Assad regime to strengthen its hands at the table during the negotiations.

Even though Russia and Iran have been backing the Assad regime in his fight against the Syrian opposition, the Kremlin and Tehran have had their differences on several issues. The two countries had differences of opinion during the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from eastern Aleppo in December 2016.

While Russia brokered an evacuation process with Turkey, Iran opposed it, opening fire at civilians willing to leave eastern Aleppo in convoys. Iranian influence within Assad’s “army” is not to be downplayed.

The clash between Russian and Iranian interests in Syria is an outcome of Assad’s weakness. His desire to stay in power at any cost has led to the incursion of the Kremlin and Tehran into Syrian soil. The brutal dictator is now trying to keep both sides happy by making concessions to the Kremlin and Tehran.

One thing is very clear. While Assad makes deals with foreign powers and sells Syrian soil, hundreds of thousands of Syrians are still suffering from Assad’s atrocities under siege.

An action needs to be taken before Assad sells all Syria to the Kremlin and Tehran at the table.

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Yunus Paksoy is the chief reporter of the Istanbul-based Turkish newspaper DAILY SABAH. Paksoy has covered Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria and the Mosul Operation in Iraq and focuses on developments in Syria, the Middle East and Turkey’s southeast.

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