Russian air strikes profoundly change geopolitical landscape of Middle East

By Anton Evstratov Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-10 20:53:01

Russian air strikes in Syria against the Islamic State (IS) were unexpected joyful news for all supporters of a secular, modern, peaceful way of life and a normal progressive development of this Middle East state. At the same time, Russian strikes have become a real shock to the opposition and their supporters, both overt and covert sponsors.

Because of that some regional players started to demand to stop military actions in Syria - first Saudi Arabia, and then an "alliance" of other countries -Turkey, Qatar, the US, Germany, France and Britain.

Some journalists began to spread information that Russian bombs fell not only on the territory controlled by the IS, but the location of the "moderate opposition" of the Syrian Free Army. Originating initially as a pro-Western liberal movement, this movement very quickly started to practice violence and moved to the ideological position of Sunni religious extremism.

It is obvious that now the Syrian government army, exhausted by four years of war and poorly supplied, has a chance to change the military layouts.

As in the past secular Syria is ready to fight as are Christian militias, Kurdish fighters and the Lebanese Hezbollah. But this time, they have, in addition to Russian aircraft, another equally strong ally. Iranian special forces have landed in Syria. The government forces in Syria will be supported by Iranian special forces.

Russia will be able to come again to the Middle East, where it has only one military base at present. Already there is talk about the opening of a second naval base and the modernization of the existing one. There is also talk of an airfield in Syria.

In the case of the Russian bases in Syria, a significant part of Europe, Israel and the US Sixth Fleet would feel threatened, because Russia has plans to base a squadron of ships in Syrian ports of approximately the same size as the US presence. This is an important geopolitical achievement.

Iran will protect the Shiites in Syria, make its influence there and in Lebanon. Furthermore, the prestige of the Tehran and the Shiites will grow even more in the Islamic world. Moreover, Tehran, as the defender not only of Shiites, but also Christians will be a heroic country for all minorities of the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Christian Armenia.

As for the US and other NATO countries and the Gulf states, their influence in the region declined slightly. For Saudi Arabia, this comes in conjunction with the rise of the Houthis in Yemen which may be the last straw that causes political collapse. The Shiite minority of the Kingdom will rise, as will in Kuwait, Qatar, and especially Bahrain.

The results for Israel will be more ambiguous. They don't want to see Bashar al-Assad survive, but they will be deprived of the hornet's nest of militant Salafists near their border.

The consequences of Russian air strikes and the dramatic changes in Syria will be seen soon. For the Russian Federation and its allies it is a unique opportunity not only to increase military and political power, but also serve the cause of justice, and stop the evil forces led by the IS. Russia has done something of which its citizens and foreign supporters can be proud.

The author is editor of

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