Syrian Bashar Assad’s Regime Overplay toward Georgia: Simple Diplomatic Demarche or Longstanding Geopolitical Approaches

On May 29, 2018 the Syrian de-facto government led by Bashar al Assad recognized de-jure breakaway separatist regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia and launched diplomatic relations. Certainly Georgia’s government reaction was immediate and Georgia broken off any relations with Syrian de-jure government to whom relations had been kept until the Bashar Assad’s unprecedented decision. New geopolitical situation has been arranged and emerged in the Caucasus region with “the Middle Eastern” tail. What has motivated the Assad’s regime to pursue the mission and follow up so-called “third wave” of recognition policy track promoted by the incumbent Kremlin Administration. Among the motivation arguments why the Bashar Assad regime gave supported to breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia are the following:

  • To gain support of 12 thousand Adigo-Circassian Diaspora residing in Syria and providing direct political backup to Bashar Assad’s regime. This is very important factor for promoting the “recognition policy” trend toward Abkhazia and South Ossetia. By doing so, the Syrian regime promotes other Diasporas residing in other countries of the Middle East, like Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey lobbying and doing everything to press their government to run the recognition process for their historical motherland
  • Syrian regime has offered its strategic ally – Iran – the recognition process and with possible engagement in the process from the Iranian side, Abkhazia and South Ossetia could reach a status of Kosovo. Yemen, Somalia (mainly Somaliland), Sudan and other countries of Sub-Saharan Africa could join the process that seriously undermines Georgia’s geopolitical position at global level;
  • Syrian Assad regime has really owed to Russian government and by this act expressed gratitude for the Kremlin’s efforts for propping up/keeping in power the Alawite’s minority led by Bashar Assad.   

Separately could be discussed the case of strategic partnership between Moscow-Damascus and why Syrian incumbent regime is owing to Moscow so much. The civil war in Syria has been under way and has been steaming up with direct involvement of global powers, like USA and Russia. Donald Trump made uneasy decision to launch attack on Syria due to the chemical weapon usage by the Assad regime against civilian population in Aleppo that violates principles of the Geneva 1925 Convention on banning chemical weapons. Even the U.S. Senate Foreign Relation Committee has supported the decision and very soon war will start despite any obstacles, including geopolitical factors, like fierce opposition of China and Russia to prevent and avoid war campaign against its ally – Assad regime. The UN Security Council declined a possibility to provide legal basis for running the military operation against Syria despite sending its experts to conduct survey on chemical weapons investigation case. The same position has been demonstrated by the NATO leadership and creation of international wide-range coalition against Syria, as it was done in Afghanistan against Taliban regime in 2001, has completely failed. Certainly, war is non-avoidable and it is clear indignation that unipolarity in the contemporary world politics still prevails and the USA is seeking to increase its leadership at the global level. The war against Syria will not have only local effects like it has been demonstrated in war against Libya or Iraq but the ramifications/consequence will be widespread to regional and even global levels. As it is known, Syria and Iran has created common strategic alliance and are linked with special agreement on strategic partnership and cooperation including in military sphere. Actually new geopolitical coalition: Moscow-Tehran-Damascus is underway and the Russian Federation has its own geostrategic interests to provide, at least covert, support to the Assad totalitarian regime. These interests are determined with deployment of two military bases in Syria:

  • Tartus hosts aSoviet-era naval supply and maintenance base, under a 1971 agreement with Syria, which is still staffed by Russian naval personnel. Tartus is the last Russian military base outside the former Soviet Union, and its only Mediterranean fuelling spot, sparing Russia’s warships the trip back to their Black Sea bases through straits in Turkey, a NATO member;
  • Damascus host a special cosmic radio-technical surveillance centre since 1972, analogous to Cuba Lundres centre, under aegis of the Russian military intelligence service – GRU and Cosmic Strategic Command HQ of the General Staff of the Russian Federation. This centre in conjunction with the same centre in Gabali in Azerbaijani Caspian seashore (“Daryal” system) and local aerial surveillance centre in Gudauta in Abkhazian Black Sea seashore enables Moscow to control spaces over the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, Western Africa rig and South Asia. Moreover, the Soviet GRU and Syrian military intelligence signed up the secret memorandum on strategic partnership in 1982 which reinforced cooperation and coordination in their operational and human intelligence activities as well as operations in case of war scenario development. The memorandum was tested in practice at least two times – in July 1982 when the sixth Arabian-Israel war erupted in Lebanon and Syria intervened in this state, occupied Beqaa Valley and in 1993 in war in Abkhazia when Syrian special force “commando unit”’ (so-called “Captain Bashar group”) engaged in hostilities against the Georgian military forces with direct support of the then chief of the Russia Foreign Intelligence Service Evgeny Primakov;
  • The Soviet legacy inherited by the Russian Federation in 1991 forced Moscow to follow up its geopolitical linkage with Assad’s regime in Syria – starting from the Soviet Kremlin’s friendship with Khafiz Assad who took over the power in 1971 and keeping on with Putin’s authority pledge with junior Bashar Assad. This is determined by the so-called “status-quo” foreign policy implementation and by similarity of two authoritarian-totalitarian regimes both in Russia and in Syria. Hence, Russia would not downplay oriental proverb: “if you betray your friend, you betray yourself”.

Russia goes far in fostering the strategic partnership with providing the incumbent Syrian regime with the newest Russian armaments of the “third” and “third+” generation, notably air defence missile system S-300PM (international trade mark “Favourite”) and fulfilled a contract on providing modern air jets Su-30 and MiG-29. According to some information, the GRU special force group, including Chechen battalion “Vostok” and “Zapad” commandos, have been dispatched to Syria to assist the national Armed Forces in quelling mutinous military paramilitary formations as well as provide full assistance in training and consulting the Syrian governmental units. Therefore, Russo-Syrian alliance is evident and relies on mutual geostrategic missions pursued in nearest future.

Moreover, Iran will support Syria “until the end” in the face of possible US-led military strikes, the chief of Iran’s elite Quds Force unit was quoted on 5 September 2013 by the media as saying. Iran is Syria’s main regional ally and some analysts believe a wider goal of US President Barack Obama’s and Donald Trump’s administrations’ determination to launch a strike against the Damascus regime is to blunt Tehran’s growing regional influence and any consequent threat to Washington ally Israel.

All of these facts are indicating that the current military conflict will not be restricted only to the so-called “limited military operation” and “the Yugoslavian case“ toward solution the so-called “Syrian dilemma” in that respect is absolutely irrelevant and groundless. The military campaign “air-land” style is to be insufficient and military intervention is unavoidable. However, it is still unclear who is going to support the American unilateral decision to wedge a war.

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