Russian MPs

In the Chaos of Syrian Geopolitics, Russia Remains Dominant

May 15, 2020
Kamal Alam
This is a summary of an article originally published by the Royal United Services Institute with the subheading: "The Russians appear to be expressing dissatisfaction with the Syrian president. But these are mere rumblings; the Syrian government is consolidating, and Russia is there to stay."

Alam argues that talk of a Russian "rift or frustration with Damascus fundamentally overlooks Russia’s historic role in Syria." This role "far predates President Vladimir Putin and is a continuation of over 60 years of unbroken participation in Syrian defense affairs." Along with security and strategic concerns, the author suggests that the idea of defending Eastern Christians in Syria "plays a big role ... in Russia’s motivation to support Damascus." Syrian officials also preferred Russian involvement in the conflict over Iran's assistance, which according to the author "did little to help the Syrian state and instead helped Tehran’s proxies." 

Russia also desires to decrease Iran's role in Syria. At the same time "welcoming an increasingly visible Chinese presence" in the country, pointing to the formation of "new alliances to counter Turkey in Syria." Russian concerns with corruption in Assad's government have been "swiftly dealt with." Assad "cracked down on the billionaire Rami Makhlouf, Assad’s cousin ... showing that Syria does act on some of Moscow’s serious concerns." Alam concludes that as "the region goes through a significant change, one equation will not change: the Russian presence in Syria; and the steady consolidation of Assad’s victory."

Read the full article at the Royal United Services Institute website.


Kamal Alam

Kamal Alam is a fellow at The Institute for Statecraft. He was a fellow at RUSI from 2015 to 2019.

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