The Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) expects that Russia, Turkey and Iran will reach a consensus to remove the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar Al-Assad, and establish a ceasefire in exchange for forming a transitional government that includes the opposition, members of the regime and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The RIAC, which is known to be close to the decision-makers in the Russian government, said in a report that a Russian organisation named the Foundation for the Protection of National Values, affiliated with the security services and the office of President Vladimir Putin, has been conducting an opinion poll in Syria.
This would send a very clear political message, conveying that the Syrian people do not want Al-Assad to remain president.
The report stated that, since the beginning of its military intervention in Syria, Moscow has been keen to avoid being presented as the defender of Al-Assad, adding that in negotiations it has stressed that “the Syrian people will decide whether or not Al-Assad will remain in power”.
Russia has become more serious about making changes in Syria, RIAC explained, not least because protecting Al-Assad has become a burden.
Russia’s TASS news agency explained: “Russia is suspecting that Al-Assad is not only unable to lead the country anymore, but also that the head of the Syrian regime is dragging Moscow towards the Afghani scenario, which is a very disconcerting possibility for Russia.”
Meanwhile, the news agency added that Iran, which is suffering from stifling US sanctions, has no interest in achieving stability in the whole region, because it considers it a battlefield with Washington.
The news agency considered that while Moscow is ready to use Al-Assad to negotiate an agreement that guarantees its interests; it is sacrificing Syrians to ensure that Al-Assad remains in power.
According to TASS, Al-Assad cannot refuse the Russians’ demands, so he makes them hear what they want to hear, but in the end, he implements Tehran’s demands.
The Russian news agency stressed that Moscow is working on a combination of scenarios including one that sees forces present in Syria accepting each other’s scope of influence. As a result, Syria would remain divided into a region protected by Tehran and Moscow, the opposition region supported by Turkey, and the East Euphrates supported by Washington and the SDF, explained TASS.
It indicated that the second option requires a complete withdrawal of all foreign forces and the unification of the country after achieving a political transformation in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution No. 2254.
The news agency considered that this option is less costly for all parties.
Turkey has long called for the removal of Al-Assad as a prerequisite to the end of its operation in Syria.