Libmonster ID: UK-1452

A.V. FEDORCHENKO, Doctor of Economics, MGIMO University, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Syria Keywords:, the Syrian crisisethnic and religious contradictions, Russia's Middle East policy

One of the main topics of negotiations at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June this year was the Syrian crisis. This is quite natural, given the complexity of the conflict situation and the involvement (direct or indirect) of many states in the Syrian events. Despite the apparent similarity of the "Arab Spring" processes, the specifics of each Arab country are obvious.

Syria has already taken a special place in this transformation process. The civil war, which claims tens of thousands of lives, many hundreds of thousands of refugees to neighboring countries, the aggravation of the inter - confessional and inter-ethnic components of the internal conflict, the intervention of external forces-all this requires drastic solutions.

In general, in the Arab world, changing political regimes towards stabilization and democratization will take a long time. "Revolutions" here start easily, but can last a very long time.

In Syria, the conflict, as expected, has entered a protracted stage. Government forces and the armed opposition are suffering serious losses. The number of civilian casualties is constantly increasing. According to the UN, about 70,000 people have died in the country since March 2011. During the two years of confrontation, tens of thousands, and according to other sources, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees settled in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq. Intensive infiltration of militants and supplies of weapons to the opposition continues.


Popular demonstrations demanding political reforms began in March 2011. Initially, the authorities combined the use of harsh methods of suppressing demonstrations with selective political and economic reforms.

The Syrian authorities have taken a number of measures aimed at partially transforming the existing regime. On April 19, 2011, the Government lifted the state of emergency. A referendum on the constitution was held in February 2012. According to official data, 8 million people took part in it. Syrians (60% of the electorate), of whom 89.4% voted for the new constitution.

The new constitution does not include an article about the "leading role in the state and society" of the current ruling Party of the Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'ath). The new constitution limits presidential rule to seven years, with the possibility of running twice, but does not take into account past terms. Theoretically, 46-year-old Bashar al-Assad gets the opportunity to legally remain in power until 2028. From now on, elections must necessarily be alternative, and voting must be direct, and not through the approval of a candidate in a referendum, as was previously the case.

However, the Syrian authorities failed to translate the conflict into a political field and establish a dialogue with the opposition. Reforms under the pretext of strengthening security were frozen, the power component in the government's policy of managing the current situation was strengthened, and various opposition forces, especially the armed ones, established their irreconcilable position.

The Syrian crisis continued to gain momentum both nationally and internationally. On February 24, 2012, at a meeting of the Friends of Syria Group1 in Tunis, more than 60 countries openly sided with the opposition, recognizing it as the "legitimate representative of the Syrian people" .2

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In Doha, the capital of Qatar, on the night of November 11-12, 2012, the leaders of the Syrian opposition factions signed the final agreement on the creation of a joint coalition - the "National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces" (NCSROS). It is based on the Syrian National Council and the National Bloc representing the so-called external opposition. The coalition was led by the famous Islamic preacher Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib.

Western countries from the "Group of Friends of Syria" immediately recognized the united opposition as the" sole and legitimate " representative of the Syrian people. The main sponsors of the Syrian rebels-Qatar and Saudi Arabia-called on the international community to supply the opposition with weapons, and the United States and the European Union continued to tighten sanctions against Syria.

In contrast, Russia took a firm position, the essence of which was non-interference in the internal affairs of Syria, facilitating the start of a peaceful dialogue between the Syrian authorities and the opposition, and a balanced approach to all forces involved in the conflict. At a special meeting of the UN Security Council on February 4, 2012 Russia, as well as China, vetoed a draft resolution on Syria proposed by the League of Arab States (LAS) and supported by Western powers, formulated as unilateral support for the opposition. This caused sharp criticism from the United States and the EU, member states of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf (GCC).

However, the NCSROS is significantly different from the Transitional National Council, which was established, for example, in Libya. Syrian politicians and dissidents who are part of the" government in exile " are mostly intellectuals, who for the most part have no ties to Islamic radical organizations and advocate the development of democratic transformations, overdue political and socio - economic reforms. The" internal "and" external " opposition to Islamist orientation is unlikely to recognize the power of secular intellectuals who spent the entire conflict in expensive hotels in Europe, Turkey and Qatar. The formation of a Sunni-majority body also causes discontent among representatives of ethnic and religious minorities in Syria, who seriously fear that their rights will be infringed.

An important step aimed at bringing together the positions of the warring parties and countries interested in an early settlement of the conflict was the communique adopted on June 30, 2012 in Geneva, prepared by the participants of the "Group of Friends of Syria", Russia and China. The document called for "the creation of a transitional governing body, which will include members of the current Syrian government, representatives of the opposition and other groups on the basis of mutual trust."3. The communique did not define the role of President Bashar al-Assad in the transition period. There was an opportunity to prepare for a peaceful change of power in Syria. However, subsequent events did not allow the development of the Geneva initiative.

On March 26, 2013, at the 24th summit of the Arab League in the capital of Qatar, the official representative of Syria in this organization was announced by the NCSROS, which, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, crossed out all previous peacekeeping efforts.4 In addition, the Arab League, continuing its policy of recognizing and supporting only one side in the conflict, officially allowed member countries to provide military assistance to the Syrian opposition.5


As of early summer 2013, the conflict has reached a dead end. In this situation, it is not easy to make forecasts. Nevertheless, we will try to outline the main possible vectors of the course of the Syrian events in the medium term.

The first predicted option is a prolonged war of attrition between government forces and opposition movements. Do not forget that Assad has not only military strength*, but also political experience in his arsenal - he can create intricate alliances consisting not only of Alawites, but also with the involvement of Syrian Christians, Druze and some Sunni social groups through the distribution of political and economic benefits. Another fallback option for Assad is "conscious decentralization" in exchange for stabilizing the situation in the country. This refers to the weakening of the center's control over the ethnic periphery, primarily the Kurdish areas.

It should be emphasized here that Syrian society as a whole has been distinguished for centuries by its moderate and tolerant approach to solving political and religious issues. The majority of Syria's Sunnis (roughly two-thirds of the country's population) are traditionally more interested in stability than in inciting sectarian hostility. The ruling Baath Party's policies took into account the economic interests of influential Sunni business groups and the traditions of peaceful coexistence of various religious communities. The Alawite regime, whose main support is the army, sought to strengthen its alliance with religious minorities, especially Druze and Christians**, establish positive cooperation with the Sunni majority, and uncompromisingly and harshly suppressed any manifestations of religious extremism and separatism.

On January 6, 2013, Bashar al-Assad proposed a step-by-step plan to resolve the intra-Syrian crisis, including the commitment of foreign states to stop "financial support for terrorists", the convening of a national dialogue conference, the creation of a new government, the drafting of a new constitution, and the announcement of a general amnesty.

The strength of the opposition lies in a variety of forms of external support. The "revolution" would have been doomed to defeat without a permanent solution.-

* The Syrian regular army has about 200 thousand people, 250 thousand are in reserve, many officers even before the "Arab Spring" had experience of participating in combat operations (during the Arab-Israeli war of 1973).

** Syrian Christians make up about 10% of the country's population.

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There is a constant influx of foreign aid to the opposition (money, weapons, ammunition) and external interference (a constant influx of "revolutionaries" from abroad, mainly from Arab countries). Of particular importance is the strong political support of the United States, Great Britain, France, the GCC countries, and Turkey. The opposition's dream is to "bomb" the way to power with the help of NATO, as happened in Libya. But NATO is in no hurry to intervene in this way.

The armed formations of the irreconcilable Syrian opposition are represented by the forces of the "Free Syrian Army" (FSA), which may number about 100 thousand fighters 6 and consists mainly of Sunnis who deserted from the Syrian army after the beginning of the unrest.

In addition, the FSA is constantly replenished with jihadists from Lebanon, Iraq, and Tunisia, which the authorities of these countries have repeatedly officially recognized, radical Islamists from the Jabhat al-Nusra movement (about 6 thousand people). trained and well-armed fighters)7, as well as detachments of disparate jihadist groups. Islamist movements in Syria and beyond are divided into three groups: the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists, and jihadists.

As the Russian orientalist V. V. Naumkin notes, "there are quite serious contradictions between them. ...At the same time, within each of these movements, there is a great variety of views and interpretations of the Islamic faith." In his opinion, despite all ideological and organizational differences, " only banned groups of jihadists-apologists for violence-categorically refuse to accept any elements of electoral democracy and pluralism."8. They are the backbone of Jabhat al-Nusra and smaller groups that oppose the Syrian army and security forces.

The international jihadist movement assigns its fighters, who are actually paid mercenaries, a special role in Syria. This country has become a pole of attraction for the flow of jihadists migrating between the countries of the Middle East, North, West and East Africa. According to various estimates, the total number of foreign fighters opposing government forces in Syria is 20-25 thousand people.9 The exact number cannot be calculated, as these flows are difficult to track.

Before being transferred to Syria, they receive special training in camps located in the southern regions of Turkey. Upon arrival in Syria, the trained groups form "battalions" or "brigades" according to the same organizational principle used by the Jabhat al-Nusra or Ahrar al-Sham groups (another Islamist opposition group operating in Syria). Reputable "leaders" with combat experience gained in Afghanistan and Iraq are sometimes allowed to form their own groups, such as the Abu Omar Sheshani and Abu Salam Al-Faluji battalions, which consist only of foreign mercenaries. Fighters who speak several foreign languages become "deputies" or "press secretaries" of group commanders.10

Most of the mercenaries come to Syria from Arab countries and Turkey. According to Arab media, about 8,000 (according to other sources, about 10,000) mercenaries from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria are being trained in the vicinity of Amman at the King Abdullah II training camp under the guidance of Jordanian, Saudi and American instructors.

About 600 mercenaries from 13 European countries (Austria, Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, the Republic of Kosovo, Finland, France, and Sweden) are fighting in Syria. In Russia, mercenaries are recruited in Tatarstan, other regions of the Volga region and the North Caucasus; in the former Soviet Union-in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan,Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine. 11 About 200 Russian fighters are fighting under the banner of al-Qaeda in Syria. This was stated on June 6, 2013 in Kazan by the Director of the FSB of Russia Alexander Bortnikov at the end of a meeting of the heads of special services, security agencies and law enforcement agencies of foreign countries-partners of the FSB 12.

It should be noted that to a certain extent, the Syrian regime itself contributed to the formation of radical Islamist movements in the country - for many years it provided shelter to various extremist and terrorist organizations - the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, Hamas, the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Kurdistan Workers ' Party. In exchange, the Islamists did not bother local authorities, operating outside of Syria, including against American troops in Iraq, anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon, and participated in Hezbollah's periodic rocket attacks against Israel.13

It is noteworthy that the United States and NATO are interested in bringing the military activity of the opposition into a controlled channel and minimizing the influence of Islamist radicals during the achievement of a military advantage by the rebels. And it's not easy.

Washington fears an Islamist threat if the vertical of power in Syria falls. The Islamist ring (Libya-Egypt-Sudan-the Arabian monarchies-Syria - Iraq) can be closed into a single whole. Damascus has an informal information exchange channel with Washington, which is organized and maintained exclusively through the channel of the special services (through Air Force intelligence) Syria and, presumably, not only exclusively about the possibility of non-proliferation of chemical weapons 14.

The issue of the use of chemical weapons in Syria is particularly important. Its spread and use by one or another party would have disastrous consequences for the population of this country and neighboring States. Western powers, especially the United States, would take advantage of its use to justify foreign intervention in Syria. So far, official confirmation of the use of this type of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has not been received, and the warring parties are limited to mutual accusations of waging a "chemical war".

The question is whether the opportunity for national development has not been missed.

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dialogue and implementation of the Geneva Initiative in the near future? The Russian-American initiative to resume the Geneva process (May 2013) faces serious obstacles - the intransigence of the opposition, the policy of double standards of the West. Increasing external support for the opposition forces will upset the balance of power in the Syrian conflict and may lead to the removal of the current Syrian leadership.

The stability of the current Syrian regime will largely depend on the balance of forces between foreign supporters and opponents of Bashar al-Assad. It is supported by Iran and regional Shiite movements and parties. Iran exports weapons to Syria, and according to some reports, its armed forces (units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - IRGC) are involved in the conflict on the side of the Syrian government. 15 " Iran, while continuing to provide financial support to Syria, has opened a $1 billion credit line. to finance the import of consumer goods, and a second credit line-for $3 billion. to finance the purchase of oil and petroleum products, " said the head of the Central Bank of Syria, Adib Mayalah16.

In May 2013, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Hezbollah group, openly admitted for the first time that his fighters were participating in the Syrian civil war on the side of government forces.17 According to Salman Sheikh, head of the Brookings Doha Center, who spoke at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, "5 thousand Hezbollah fighters are currently fighting on the side of Assad in Syria, and another 5 thousand are ready to join them." 18

On the other hand, the "Friends of Syria" are joined by Israel, whose interests in the neighboring country are ambiguous. Tel Aviv fears the penetration of some Iranian and Russian weapons and military equipment into Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel's goal is to maintain its military superiority over its northern neighbor, including in air space. This superiority, in particular, allowed Israel to launch air strikes on targets in the suburbs of Damascus on May 3 and 5 of this year19. Deliveries of Russian defensive weapons - S-300 surface-to-air missile systems - to Syria in accordance with previously concluded contracts would allow Damascus to protect itself from air strikes.

The result of the second scenario-the collapse of the current Syrian regime-will be, firstly, the destabilization of the BV region, which is already observed in neighboring countries, primarily in Lebanon; secondly, radical Islamists may come to power in Syria.

In this case, the further development of events inside Syria may have several options, but their results will be largely similar. The links (stages) of these scenarios are as follows (they may be arranged in a different sequence): removal of Assad, foreign intervention, beginning of territorial disintegration (creation of Alawite, Kurdish, Sunni, and Christian territorial formations). The emergence of a prototype of the Kurdistan State on the territory of Syria will raise a wave of Kurdish separatism in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. The civil war will continue and spread to neighboring Arab countries.

When the victors change places with the losers, the conflict will flare up with a new force (as in Iraq). Alawites in alliance with other religious denominations are not going to give up. They have nowhere to run from Syria. In Syria itself, there will be a consolidation of faiths, and the struggle for property and power will begin at a new stage.

Alawites, Shiites, Christians, Kurds may well launch a large-scale guerrilla war, and even more fierce than it was in Iraq.

Experts are considering the possibility of repeating the "Libyan scenario". As for foreign intervention, its probability is not very high at the moment, but it will significantly increase due to the growing danger of loosening control over WMD. A mandatory link in this option is the establishment of a no-fly zone, this time without legal cover in the form of a UN decision (as in Iraq, Yugoslavia).

In a situation where the "anti-Assad train" can no longer be stopped, the West will try to soften the transition period - to strengthen the liberal wing in the Syrian opposition coalition, so that it can significantly weaken the influence of radical Islamists.

For Washington, Syria will obviously become a kind of testing ground where the Americans will work out their new strategic orientation: to support and promote moderate Islamists in the Middle East who are ready to establish allied relations with the United States. Washington has already begun to take tough steps to limit the activities of its allies from the Arabian Peninsula aimed at supporting the radical wing of the Syrian opposition. To this end, a buffer zone is being created on the Jordanian-Syrian border, controlled by" secular groups " of the armed opposition with the support of American instructors. It is through this territory that the transit of weapons to the opposition loyal to the United States will probably go.

The fiefdom of the Islamists-areas adjacent to the Syrian-Turkish border - will gradually be blocked and deprived of sources of external aid, including the refusal to establish a no-fly zone in this part of Syria. But whether the Americans will be able to "filter out" the radicals from the moderate opposition - the answer to this question should be sought in the precedents of Afghanistan and Iraq.

By early June 2013, the United States and the European Union had provided the armed opposition with means of communication, as well as food and medicine, but formally refrained from supplying weapons. Western countries ' restraint on this issue increased after one of the main Islamist armed groups operating in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, swore allegiance to the leader of the international terrorist network al-Qaeda in April 2013, and the facts of brutal reprisals of opposition members against Syrian servicemen were made public.20 However, the situation is changing. In May 2013 The EU and the US have taken steps to lift the formal or informal embargo on the supply of weapons and military equipment to the Syrian opposition.

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Are the opposition forces able to establish peace and prevent the territorial disintegration of Syria? This seems doubtful. The organizational consolidation of the Syrian opposition and the beginning of the formation of future authorities in the country have revealed serious contradictions in its ranks, which is likely to lead to chaos and the strengthening of radical Islamists if the Assad regime is overthrown. The signs of this are already quite clear.

The "National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces" is trying to overcome the anarchy in the "liberated territories", restore local authorities, and solve refugee problems. However, efforts to create new authorities, in particular the appointment of Ghassan Hitto* as head of the Transitional Government by leading coalition members, are only symbolic. Serious contradictions and competition are growing both within the coalition itself, and between Islamists represented by Jabhat al-Nusra and the FSA, and within the FSA itself (over the appointment of Hitto, the distribution of financial aid and weapons flows). The opposition does not have a specific program for the country's recovery from the crisis and further socio-economic and political development.21

As a separate, uncontrolled force, there are growing jihadist groups consisting of fighters arriving in Syria from other Arab countries, Turkey and even Europe.


Lebanon and Jordan are the most vulnerable to further destabilization. In Lebanon, the weakening of Syrian influence will lead to sectarian armed conflict. The delicate balance between the main political forces will collapse. The country may split into three quasi-states-Shiite, Sunni and Christian.

Military operations between Lebanese Shiites and Syrian Sunnis-both on Syrian and Lebanese territory-have already begun. Representatives of Hezbollah are involved in the Syrian conflict on the side of government forces, and in response, in June 2013, Syrian rebels launched rocket attacks on northern Lebanon. Lebanon is turning into the second front of the confrontation between the FSA and the Lebanese Hezbollah. Lebanese Sunnis want to settle accounts with Syria for the years of the Syrian occupation that ended in 2005. All this activates the "Sunni revival" in Lebanon.

The Palestinian factor contributes to the aggravation of the political and religious conflict. Palestinian refugee camps are coming under the control of the Syrian opposition, which uses loyal Palestinian refugees arriving in Lebanon from Syria (at the beginning of 2013, there were about 22 thousand of them). Qatar provides financial support to this group of Palestinians. In total, there are 12 refugee camps in Syria, where about 500 thousand people live. Ansar Allah, which was Hezbollah's only Sunni jihadist ally, went over to the side of Assad's opponents. There is an increase in the popularity of Hamas among Palestinians and a parallel weakening of the influence of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - a left-wing Marxist paramilitary organization that advocates the creation of an independent Palestinian state).

In Jordan, there is a high probability of the collapse of the royal regime. The "buffer zone" created by the United States with the help of the Syrian opposition in southern Syria is aimed at saving Jordan, as well as regulating the flow of weapons that, according to the Americans, should not fall into the hands of radical Islamists.

The Palestinian factor will increase-the number of refugees from Syria already exceeds 80 thousand, many of whom are Palestinians. It may lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the territory of Jordan (most likely, an Islamist one). The Palestinians are under the influence of local Islamists. In the context of growing protests in the country, the participation of Jordanian Islamists in the Syrian conflict is extremely dangerous. Contradictions between the Palestinian diaspora (60% of the kingdom's population) and the East Jordanians (the country's indigenous population), including local Bedouin leaders and descendants of immigrants from the Caucasus, who make up the social support of the Hashemite monarchy, may become more acute. Now the political reforms conceived by King Abdullah are frozen, although Islamists in the face of the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood have long insisted on their implementation.

Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, who mostly support Hamas, continue to be a serious factor that can destabilize the internal situation in Jordan. They haven't forgotten Black September 1970.

Economic losses are inevitable in all neighboring Arab countries. Economic sanctions against Syria alone are dealing a severe blow to the Jordanian economy. Damascus is a key economic partner of Amman. Jordanian goods pass through Syrian territory to Lebanon and its ports, Turkey, and Europe. A break with Syria would have disastrous consequences for the banks of Amman, Irbid and Aqaba, which are linked to joint investment projects with Syrian firms and receive a quarter of their profits from commercial operations with Syria22. The transfer of Palestinian and Syrian refugees from Syria to Jordan places a heavy burden on the Kingdom's State budget, whose expenses have traditionally been largely paid for by gratuitous transfers to the United Statesstranssagr23.

The Sunni-Shiite conflict is escalating in Iraq. Currently from Iraq to Syria

* G. Hitto is a 50-year-old Kurd, a former high-tech manager from Dallas who recently moved to Turkey. Hitto was born in Damascus, but lived in the United States for more than 25 years, where he completed a master's degree at the University of Indianapolis. In 2011 He organized the Al-Sham Foundation to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the affected population in Syria.

** In September 1970, King Hussein of Jordan began a bloody crackdown on Palestinian militant organizations and the restoration of government control over the situation in the country.

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there are flows of Sunni militants to help the rebels. The fall of the regime in Syria would lead to an increase in Sunni anti-Shiite activity in Iraq itself, and the flow of jihadists would become two-way - from Syria to Iraq and from Iraq to Syria. Now the main place of their concentration is the Syrian-Iraqi border. This situation was created by Damascus itself. He supported Sunni insurgents against US forces and the government in Iraq from 2003 to 2007.

Ultimately, a Sunni quasi-state may arise in the area of the Syrian-Iraqi border, since the same tribes live on both sides of the border. The amir (head) of the "Islamic State of Iraq", which is an association of Sunni groups operating on Iraqi territory, the "core" of which is "Al-Qaeda in the land of Two Great Rivers (Al-Qaeda fi-bilad Arrafidain), declares that two organizations are being disbanded - the "Islamic State of Iraq" and the " Support Front population of Greater Syria "(Jabha al-Nusra li-ahl al-sham), and they are transformed into a new " Islamic State of Greater Syria and Iraq "(Al-Dawla al-Islamiyya fi-bilad al-sham wa-l-Iraq)*. This creates the basis for a new quasi-state entity that includes parts of the territory of Iraq and Syria controlled by Al-Qaeda and associated Sunni groups.

The proclamation of the "Islamic State of Greater Syria and Iraq" is an episode in the struggle for the post-Assad political structure of Syria, which is going on between many groups and centers of power, including foreign ones. To date, the Free Syrian Army has reacted with disbelief to this statement, and its representatives suggested waiting for the relevant statements from the Front for Support of the Population of Greater Syria.24

For all three states neighboring Syria, the negative consequences of destabilization in this country are similar:

- increasing flow of refugees;

- intensification of inter-confessional and inter-State conflicts. Under the influence of the Syrian crisis, relations between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon, Iraq and even in Yemen are becoming more acute;

- ability to distribute and use weapons of mass destruction;

- weakening of the ruling regimes (primarily in Lebanon and Jordan);

- a sharp deterioration in the economic situation.

The main thing is that this BV sub-region is entering a long period of military conflicts and political transformations that are difficult to predict in the long term. The "jihadization" of the entire region is particularly dangerous. A united front of jihadists is being formed:

- Iraqi ones,

- who were held by the Syrian special services,

- based in Jordan,

- located in Lebanon,

- Saudi citizens who were previously isolated by the kingdom's authorities inside the country and used to be transferred to Iraq (now-to Syria).

We should also add constantly migrating groups from Libya, Yemen, the Maghreb, and East and West Africa.

Jihadists are among the few interested in the sectarian conflict in and around Syria.25 They will have room to increase their influence - from Lebanon to Iraq, Jordan, and Israel. But how strong they will be is not entirely clear. Another thing is obvious : the central government is weakening, and the division of societies into groups based on religious, ethnic, and tribal principles is increasing.

In a situation of increasing chaos, jihadists feel like a fish in water. They easily survive by uniting around a single ideology and using a system of interconnection. Their main goal is to create an ummah that will replace traditional centers of power. According to the leaders of the FSA, after the fall of Assad, the next war is with the Islamists.26 All this threatens to increase violence and terrorism both within the Greater Middle East and in the adjacent regions of Russia. It is likely that the jihadists will deploy their hidden front against the United States and European countries. At the same time, the Muslim factor as a whole, according to Russian experts, will be used by the United States to "deter and destabilize potential rivals (China, Russia, and India), for each of which the embers of Islamism smoldering along the perimeter or inside their borders can easily burst into a disastrous conflagration"27.


The Russian Foreign Ministry assessed the referendum on a new constitution held in Syria in February 2012 "as an important step towards the implementation of the Syrian government's course of transformation aimed at turning Syria into a modern democratic state and expanding the rights and freedoms of its citizens."28

In our opinion, the position taken by Russia is the most adequate, balanced and constructive, since it is precisely this line that objectively restrains the undesirable slide of the region into the abyss of chaos and separatism. This position is clearly outlined in the draft joint resolution of Russia and China submitted to the UN Security Council, which provides for a peaceful settlement of the conflict without any outside interference, based on an inclusive intra-Syrian dialogue, in which all responsible forces of Syria should participate. With this goal in mind, it would be advisable to launch a new "Geneva initiative".

At the international level, especially at the UN, the task is to counter both attempts by the United States, the EU and their allies to exert political, economic and military pressure on the current ruling Syrian leadership, and any Western actions aimed at removing Bashar al-Assad by force, including providing military support to the opposition. Efforts are continuing to develop the contacts that the Russian Foreign Ministry has established with the opposition in order to involve its representatives in a constructive dialogue with the authorities.-

* This refers to the failed project of creating a Greater Syria after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire ("Bilyad al-Sham" on the territory of modern countries-Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories (the Gaza Strip and the West Bank). Jordan). The pre - Islamic name of the territory-Syria-was used until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918.

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We emphasize that the way out of this situation is possible only within the legal framework.

The latter consideration regarding the launch of a national dialogue is important, as it would help to reduce the confrontation through mutual movement of the parties towards national reconciliation. Russia, which maintains close and reliable ties with the authorities and has access to the opposition, can contribute to a productive rapprochement between the parties, leading them to a joint conclusion that the reorientation from destructive confrontation and violence to a constructive solution of topical issues of the political system objectively corresponds to the national interests of Syria. The main tool for this should be the inter-Syrian dialogue, in which the Syrian parties can agree on a common political platform for resolving acute issues on the national agenda, including the transition from armed confrontation to a political process. Instead of making unfair decisions, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, it is necessary to work on implementing the provisions of the Geneva Communique 29.

At the end of May 2013, the Russian Foreign Minister held talks in Paris. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry. They were devoted, in particular, to the preparation of a peace conference on Syria. Lavrov noted that organizing the conference is not an easy task. "But I hope that Russia and the United States will implement this initiative, and the chances of success are greater," the minister said. "And I hope that we will successfully use this chance." 30

Indeed, it will not be easy to reach an agreement, given Washington's ambivalent policy on the Syrian crisis. While taking steps together with Russia to prepare for a peace conference, the US administration does not rule out the possibility of establishing a no-fly zone over Syria with subsequent foreign intervention. On May 22, 2013, the US Senate Foreign Policy Committee approved the "Syria Transition Support Act of 2013", which authorizes the supply of weapons to the "moderate Syrian opposition". The EU countries, whose foreign ministers agreed on May 28, 2013, not to extend the embargo on the supply of weapons to the Syrian opposition, are also working in this direction.

The Russian Foreign Ministry regards such steps as a violation of international law, which prohibits the supply of weapons to opposition structures.31

A new stage in the confrontation between Russia and Western states on the Syrian issue was the June (2013) G8 summit in Lough Erne (Northern Ireland). The summit was the most difficult meeting of leaders in recent years. Members of the Club of Eight quickly agreed on money, creating a Transatlantic Free Trade Zone, and began to break spears on the issue of war and peace in Syria.

As a result of heated negotiations, the heads of the Group of Eight called for the creation of a transitional body that will have full responsibility. The West failed to push through Russia's agreement to remove Bashar al-Assad from power. In Loch Erne, it was decided that the peace conference on Syria (it is called "Geneva-2") will be prepared by Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry. Kerry. It was tentatively scheduled for August 2013. As noted by Russian TV journalists, "having achieved all the goals set, Vladimir Putin demonstrated that the saying that seven do not wait for one does not always work" 32.

1 At the Friends of Syria international conference held in Tunis in February 2012, an anti-Assad coalition was formed, with more than 100 States and international organizations, including the United States, the EU, and the Arab League, joining it. The US-led "Group of Friends of Syria"was supposed to demonstrate the unity of the international community, which is ready to act independently and not within the framework of the UN, where pressure on the regime of V. Assad is prevented by Moscow and Beijing, which have the temper of vetoes. Neither Russia nor China sent their representatives to the forum.

2 On the Syrian opposition movements before the formation of the NSSRC, see: Fedorchenko L. V., Krylov L. V. Mid-East: Possible options for Transformation Processes, Moscow, 2012.

3 o-sirii

4 http://www.mid.rn/brp_/jisf/0/130CF35FF8C92A.15.i/i257B7 900203I)B5

5 hltp://ria.rn/trend/I)oha_summit_27032013/

Alami M. 6 Syria's foreign Legions - sada/2013/02/28/syna-s-foreign-legions/fmnj


8 For more details, see: Naumkin V. V. Instead of a preface: the cycle of the Arab Awakening. The Arab Awakening and Russia: what's next? Moscow, 2012, pp. 15, 16.


10 http://www.fssb.Su/rescarch/rcsearch-reviews//i 28-inostrannyc-naemniki-v-sirii.htinl

11 Ibidem.


Diehl J. 13 A jihadist group prospers in Syria // Washington Post. October 29, 2012.

14 hltp://


16 /


18 (27.05.2013)


20 hltp://trueinforni.rn/iiiodulcs.php?name-News&file=print&sid-1317/1

Dolgov B. 21 The Syrian crisis: development and prospects // International life. 2012, No. 9. P. 26.

Balmasov S. S. 22 On Jordanian-Syrian relations hltp: / / www. iimes. ru/? p=1/i787

I Am K. 23 Seizing the initiative. Open Briefing. London, 10 April, 2013. P. 5.

24 http://www.ii

Bokhari K. 25 Jihadist Opportunities in Syria // Geopolitical Weekly/ February 14,2012.

26 hltp://>wuiHCKaH_noHHa_B_CHpHH

Fituni L. L. Solodovnikov V. G. 27 Towards the "Arab Winter" / / Asia and Africa Today. 2012, N 6. P. 7.

28 Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia on the referendum on the draft of the new Constitution in Syria / / Information Bulletin of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, 28.02.2012. p. 8.

29 http://www.mid.rn


31 hllp:// 257B2F001F2F07



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