Why does Russia See a Potential European Role in Syria?


More than merely seeking a European role in Syria’s post-war reconstruction, a European diplomatic presence in Syria’s post-war settlement through Sochi peace process would render it a lot more credibility and international acceptance. There is a geo-political dimension to it as well. With the EU and the US falling clearly apart on the question of Iran nuclear deal, the EU seems quite determined in pursuing its policies vis-à-vis other contentious issues rather independently. While it can’t be said for sure that the EU will automatically tune itself with Russian approach to Syria settlement, it can certainly be said, given how it has adopted an independent course vis-à-vis Iran, that it will not simply be following the US in its footsteps. This was pretty much the case when Turkey recently hosted Russia, along with Germany and France, to discuss the Syrian settlement.

Bringing Europe in the process makes sense to Russia also because there is little to no prospect of any deal or settlement with the US, given that the US has already announced to keep its troops in Syria until Iran withdraws its own personnel. Therefore, by bringing EU in the Syrian scenario, Russia and Turkey hope to gather enough international forces on their side to build pressure on the US to withdraw.

Just as in the case of Iran, where EU stands to gain in terms of buying cheap Iranian oil and exploiting its big market to its advantage, Syria, too, offers something that, in the absence of settlement and continuation of war, might bite Europe hard. It is undoubtedly the refugee crisis and the way the admission of half a million Syrian refugees, the biggest admission since the end of the Second Word War, has given rise to far-right movements in EU, challenging the EU elite’s hold on power. The EU, therefore, is certainly ripe enough to be brought into the Syrian peace process, and that, too, without a US involvement and influence.

The Turkey summit saw some meaningful progress on the issue. Previously, both Germany and France were reluctant to attend the summit because they were unwilling to see Assad remaining in power and providing him the money to re-build. However, the realisation that a completely destroyed Syrian economy and infrastructure would continue to send more and more refugees to Europe seems to have started to prevail, and EU leaders have seemingly become a lot more open to the possibility of Assad remaining in power as part of settlement and power-sharing arrangement under the new constitution than was previously the case.

While this settlement will then be followed by free and fair elections, what is significant to note is how, for instance, Germany has started to agree with Russia that without Assad, Syria will once again fall apart. Assad, therefore, is the pillar on which settlement will be built and expand from. France, too, is agreeing to it, and it couldn’t have attended the Turkey summit unless it had received an ‘assurance’ that there will ultimately be a political transition in Syria through fair and free elections.

But the summit, which had been originally conceived by Russia, did happen in the last week of October, and the most important outcome wasn’t just EU emphasis on political transition in Syria, but its implicit acceptance of the idea that initial settlement is possible with Assad remaining in power and that it was still possible to see him returning to power through a fair and free elections in Syria. That means, EU would practically have no problem in developing relations with Syria if Assad is re-elected in the post-settlement scenario. Hence, their agreement to establishing a constitutional committee, as the communique of Istanbul summit read, “by the end of the year …that would achieve the constitutional reform, paving the way for free and fair elections under the UN supervision …, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate”.

What this consensus on making reforms and holding elections qualitatively means is that EU no longer sees ‘regime change’ as important an objective as ‘political change.’ Thus, the political change thus achieved through elections and under the US supervision would also open up the way for the EU to release money for Syria’s reconstruction.

As EU foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, has often reiterated that they will not release “reconstruction” money to Syria until the political process has been completed under UN auspices. Therefore, with things now seemingly reaching a point in Syria where fulfilling this condition does no longer seem an impossibility as it looked until a year or so ago, there would remain little for EU to block, unless it reverses its stance) funding Syrian re-construction.

For Russia, therefore, the inclusion of EU in Syrian peace process offers two fold benefits: it gives credibility to the overall peace process and opens up the possibility of reaching an internationally recognised ‘political change’ in Syria, and it does also make Syria’s massive reconstruction problem a lot less problematic than it is now due to the absence of sufficient funds for it. EU’s both diplomatic and financial presence would thus make a crucial difference in terms of taking the Syrian war to a logical and peaceful end, and that’s what seems to have motivated the Russians to pro-actively engage EU, instead of the US, in Syria.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

New Eastern Outlook

Dear friends of this aggregator

  • Yes, I intentionally removed Newsbud from the aggregator on Mar 22.
  • Newsbud did not block the aggregator, although their editor blocked me on twitter after a comment I made to her
  • As far as I know, the only site that blocks this aggregator is Global Research. I have no idea why!!
  • Please stop recommending Newsbud and Global Research to be added to the aggregator.

Support this site

News Sources

Source Items
WWI Hidden History 50
Grayzone Project 95
Pass Blue 164
Dilyana Gaytandzhieva 14
John Pilger 416
The Real News 367
Scrutinised Minds 29
Need To Know News 2312
FEE 4309
Marine Le Pen 319
Francois Asselineau 25
Opassande 53
HAX on 5July 220
Henrik Alexandersson 811
Mohamed Omar 345
Professors Blog 10
Arg Blatte Talar 40
Angry Foreigner 18
Fritte Fritzson 12
Teologiska rummet 32
Filosofiska rummet 98
Vetenskapsradion Historia 147
Snedtänkt (Kalle Lind) 209
Les Crises 2549
Richard Falk 152
Ian Sinclair 98
SpinWatch 58
Counter Currents 8420
Kafila 416
Gail Malone 34
Transnational Foundation 221
Rick Falkvinge 94
The Duran 9325
Vanessa Beeley 93
Nina Kouprianova 9
MintPress 5509
Paul Craig Roberts 1602
News Junkie Post 58
Nomi Prins 27
Kurt Nimmo 191
Strategic Culture 4542
Sir Ken Robinson 20
Stephan Kinsella 89
Liberty Blitzkrieg 840
Sami Bedouin 63
Consortium News 2489
21 Century Wire 3403
Burning Blogger 324
Stephen Gowans 84
David D. Friedman 149
Anarchist Standard 16
The BRICS Post 1504
Tom Dispatch 490
Levant Report 18
The Saker 4060
The Barnes Review 512
John Friend 437
Psyche Truth 146
Jonathan Cook 135
New Eastern Outlook 3701
School Sucks Project 1765
Giza Death Star 1810
Andrew Gavin Marshall 15
Red Ice Radio 601
GMWatch 2156
Robert Faurisson 150
Espionage History Archive 34
Jay's Analysis 904
Le 4ème singe 90
Jacob Cohen 206
Agora Vox 14357
Cercle Des Volontaires 430
Panamza 2040
Fairewinds 111
Project Censored 918
Spy Culture 481
Conspiracy Archive 75
Crystal Clark 11
Timothy Kelly 545
PINAC 1482
The Conscious Resistance 777
Independent Science News 74
The Anti Media 6445
Positive News 820
Brandon Martinez 30
Steven Chovanec 61
Lionel 287
The Mind renewed 439
Natural Society 2607
Yanis Varoufakis 939
Tragedy & Hope 122
Dr. Tim Ball 104
Web of Debt 138
Porkins Policy Review 401
Conspiracy Watch 174
Eva Bartlett 586
Libyan War Truth 318
DeadLine Live 1909
Kevin Ryan 62
Aaron Franz 218
Traces of Reality 166
Revelations Radio News 121
Dr. Bruce Levine 140
Peter B Collins 1505
Faux Capitalism 205
Dissident Voice 10344
Climate Audit 222
Donna Laframboise 415
Judith Curry 1111
Geneva Business Insider 40
Media Monarchy 2265
Syria Report 78
Human Rights Investigation 91
Intifada (Voice of Palestine) 1685
Down With Tyranny 11349
Laura Wells Solutions 43
Video Rebel's Blog 424
Revisionist Review 485
Aletho News 19654
ضد العولمة 27
Penny for your thoughts 2906
Northerntruthseeker 2290
كساريات 37
Color Revolutions and Geopolitics 27
Stop Nato 4699 Blog 2948 Original Content 6697
Corbett Report 2256
Stop Imperialism 491
Land Destroyer 1162
Webster Tarpley Website 1068

Compiled Feeds

Public Lists

Title Visibility
Funny Public