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Damascus’ Allies, Opponents Race Over Strategic Gains

Damascus’ Allies, Opponents Race Over Strategic Gains

Thursday, 25 April, 2019 - 06:45
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad alongside his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on Feb. 25, 2019. AFP photo
London - Ibrahim Hamidi
Allies and opponents of Damascus continue to benefit from the country’s political and economic weaknesses to win strategic gains that can limit the abilities of any Syrian government for the next decades.

Western diplomatic sources said Wednesday that the Iranian economic concessions in Syria have stirred Russian sensitivities as Moscow and Tehran compete on securing their shares of influence in the country as a prize for supporting the regime of Bashar Assad during the past years.

The sources said Moscow was mostly concerned when Damascus accepted to grant Iran the right to manage the port of Latakia, which is located near the two Russian bases in Latakia and Tartous and for allowing Iran to be the first in reaching the Mediterranean Sea, leaving the Tehran-Mediterranean route open.

As a response, Moscow was quick to announce its long-term control over the Syrian Tartous port through disclosures made by its Deputy Prime Minister, Yury Borisov, who said the port will be leased to Russia for 49 years for transportation and economic usage.

While Russia and Iran benefited from Syria’s military losses in 2015 to enhance their military presence across the country, they both currently benefit from the economic crisis to gain strategic concessions.

In return, US President Donald Trump accepted to keep around 1,000 troops in east Syria while European-US contacts continue with an aim to shape a common perception for their future presence east the Euphrates.

Meanwhile, Ankara and Moscow currently hold talks over a swap deal of Tal Rifaat in the Aleppo countryside with the Shaghur Bridge, which was mysteriously attacked on Wednesday.

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