During the past week, Arab newspapers touched on the agreement between Damascus and Israel, mediated by Russia, in addition to the Hewlêr attacks.
Prisoners exchange between Damascus and Israel
In this context, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper said: “Damascus confirmed the existence of “Russian mediation” with Tel Aviv for the exchange of prisoners' release between Syria and Israel. The official Syrian News Agency (SANA) reported yesterday that “a process is currently taking place through Russian mediation for the liberation of Nihal Al-Maqt and Dhiab Kahmuz in an exchange during which an Israeli woman, who entered the Kuneitra region by mistake, was released, as she was arrested.”
The Palestinian Prisoners Club announced, on Wednesday, that “the occupation prisons administration summoned Kahmuz to inform him of the decision to release him to Syria, under a deal between Syria and Israel mediated by Russia.” This came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for an emergency cabinet meeting, on Tuesday evening, days after contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
For his part, the Russian president's envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, expressed his hope that “the ongoing consultations between Moscow and Tel Aviv would result in an agreement to stop the Israeli raids in Syria.”
He pointed to ongoing consultations with Tel Aviv, adding that “these unconstructive raids must end, and we hope that the Israeli side will heed to our concern about the escalation of the situation in the Syrian territories, which may drain the patience of the Syrian government, which will lead to a counter-strike, and no one wants that. We confirm that any outbreak of violence in Syria is unacceptable.”
A US-Iranian-Turkish conflict threatens the stability of Iraqi Kurdistan
Regarding Iraq, Al-Arab newspaper said: “The missile attack that targeted Erbil Airport raised concerns about the stability of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which, according to political analysts and security experts, will be the stage for a tripartite US-Iranian-Turkish conflict in the next period.”
Observers of the Iraqi issue are monitoring an increasing interest by the United States in restoring its relations with the region after a period of apathy and decline, in comparison to the close relationship that united the two parties since before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
They remind that previous US administrations pushed the Region to the situation in which it became closer to an entity independent of the Iraqi state, and different in terms of its stability and relative economic prosperity from the rest of the Iraqi regions, but the matter ended during the administration of former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump to some kind of the neglect of the Region’s affairs clearly evidenced by Washington’s “disappointing” Erbil in the referendum on the independence of the Region that was held in the fall of 2017, when its leaders, especially President Masoud Barzani, were surprised by the complete coldness towards the referendum in the United States whcih was expected to support the step according to the estimates of these leaders.
Security and military experts attribute the resurgence of American interest in the Kurdistan Region to the fact that its territories can represent an ideal alternative location for the American forces, which have already begun to be withdrawn from separate parts of Iraq under the pressure of political parties and Shiite militias that have a large representation in the Iraqi parliament, which previously issued a decision stipulating to remove those forces from the country.
The stationing of those forces in the Region means the loss of Iran and its party and armed arms in the battle to "expel" the US army from Iraq.
Against this background, Iran and the "Shiite militias" were accused of being behind the attack, which targeted Erbil airport on Monday, which includes an American base, and left a dead and nine wounded, one of them an American soldier, according to data from the international coalition against ISIS led by the United States.
However, Iran is not the only one with an interest in disturbing the comfort of the American military presence in Iraqi Kurdistan, as Turkey also has an interest in resisting everything that would support the Region’s authorities and strengthen their position, based on the keenness of the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to keep the Region weak and open to the Turkish army in its ever-escalating and expanding operations under the banner of pursuing the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) holed up in some rugged areas of the Region.
Turkey's resentment of the Iraqi Kurds’ relationship with the United States is no less than its declared apprehension and anger at the US support for the Syrian Kurds, as the stationing of US forces in some of their areas there prevented the Turkish army from completing the occupation of those areas and striking all Kurdish forces.
Although both Iran and Turkey are considered competitors for influence in the region and their interests are fundamentally contradictory in Syria, the convergence of interests unites them in the position towards the Kurds and confronting any effort that would lead, even after a while, to the establishment of a national state for them in the region that will inevitably demand parts from Turkish and Iranian lands, as well as the lands currently affiliated with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.