OPINION | Russia's Exit From Syria, Now What?

OPINION | Russia's Exit From Syria, Now What?

By Federica Fanuli
Editor-at-Large, IndraStra Global

OPINION | Russia's Exit From Syria, Now What?

If anyone had assumed (or hoped?) that Russia would have turned up in the Syrian quagmire, as the United States in the Afghan one, it was soon belied by the statement of President Putin who has announced that the military operation could be defined archived, during the reopening of peace negotiations for Syria. 

However, the Soviet proposal to assume a Syrian federation continues to hold the stage, whose premise may already be the proclamation of independence of Kurdistan. The news does not seem to have been appreciated by the Sultan Erdogan.

Mission accomplished. Russia is out of the Syrian game. At least for the moment, or apparently, because the Russians continue to control Syrian airspace, but it could be a move of the Russian leader to gain concessions on the Ukrainian front as well. 

If Putin pointed out in diplomatic isolation, Syria was certainly a good test case, especially since the Russian Federation has been measured in a complicated war zone, from which the United States had moved away. 

Moreover, the testing of modern weapons will be useful for the Soviet power politics and the internal market; the increase in exports of new military technologies could benefit the weak economy of the country. 

Russia has proven to be able to intervene in an international scenario and, balancing military engagement and diplomacy, the Kremlin has suggested a possible political solution. It has come forward the hypothesis of a Syrian federalism, which has not been excluded from the themes discussed in Geneva. The presidential elections of next September is an important event for Putin and groped to demonstrate that the partition of Syria, assigning state portions to different ethnic groups, a panacea for the Syrian people, could win the trust of the voters. 

Federalism means the Bosnian model. According to the Dayton Agreement of 1995, Bosnia was divided by tracing ethnic and sectarian boundaries of two internal entities to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina: the Croat-Muslim Federation and the Serb Republic. Syria could be fragmented into three regions, with full administrative autonomy. 

At the north side, a Kurdish region. At the east side, an Alawite area with the capital Damascus, where Druze and Christians could coexist, and the centre of Syria, the area that corresponds to the territory controlled by the Islamic State at the moment, that once freed from the black Caliphate, could be subjected to the control of the army of Syria and Syrian Free democratic army. 

A chance for Russia, much less for Turkey that has tried to dampen the enthusiasm expressed by the main Kurdish party in northern Syria, the Democratic Unity Party, to declare the autonomy of the areas to the north of the country. 

A strip of land that stretches for 400 kilometres along the Syrian border, the Republic of Rojava, controlled by Kurds. The three cantons - Afrin, Ayn al-Arab, Jazeera - under the control of a single federal entity could be the first step towards the Syrian federalism, speculated by Putin and rejected by the Turkish opposition. 

A difficult time for Erdogan who, besides having to digest the Soviet proposal to fragment Syria, may prevent the birth of northern Syria Federation or, rather, the proclamation of an autonomous and independent Kurdistan, the nightmare of the Sultan.

About The Author:

Federica Fanuli was graduated with honours in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Salento and she has obtained a Master’s Degree in Political Science, European Studies and International Relations at the same University. Foreign Affairs analyst, she is Editorial Manager of Mediterranean Affairs, a project aiming to provide analyses that cover the Mediterranean area. Columnist of the Sunday Sentinel, she is Editorial Board Member of Cosmopolismedia.it and Editor-at-large of IndraStra Global. She can be reached at her LinkedIn profile. / Thomson Reuters ResearcherID : M-9093-2015

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