The curse of Astana, difficult birth

Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, stole the light from Geneva as the political Islam, the curse of the Arab Spring, stole the peaceful Syrian youth revolution, which concern was never seizing power or the hostility of a person, family or sect of the Syrian people because of their proximity to power. It was a revolution in terms of the change in the form, essence, methods, tools and mechanisms of the country's administration, managing the lives of the Syrians, from tyranny to democracy, from exclusion to participation in decision and responsibility from corruption and spoiling to transparency and the rule of law, moving from individual governance to governance of government . The state that the security authority is turning into a state of law and institutions.

Ten rounds of Astana under the auspices of Russian Iranian-Turkish, and behind the curtain America and Israel are closely watching the negotiations, where the Syrian parties, the authority and the opposition, on its margins they accept what the sponsors agree. This process has succeeded in stopping the fighting in four areas called De-escalation areas as a first stage and handing over three of them Aleppo, al-Ghouta and the south to the Damascus government in the second stage within certain arrangements in exchange for sharing the influence between the sponsoring countries on the whole Syrian territory: Turkey west of Euphrates and Idlib , Iran, the passage  from al-bu Kamal to Western Qalamoun, Qussair  and the southern region, Russia to the coast and the central region to the capital, to the east of the Euphrates and the base of al-Tanf under American influence.

Two knots resulted in the path of Astana, which worried the American and Israeli administrations, the Turkish knot in the Syrian north and the Iranian knot in the Syrian south. Turkey is much closer to Russia than it has given in Syria unless it is taken from America, not under the Obama administration or under the current Trump administration (Jarablus ,al- Bab, Azaz , Afrin, and military outposts in Idlib and the northern countryside of Hama ) this influence appears to be in the face of American influence in the east of the Euphrates, which supports the Kurds. This influence seems to be in the face of the American influence in the east of the Euphrates supporting the Kurds and Autonomous Administration, which worries Erdogan's comfort and increases his proximity to Russia in the economy, investment, trade, armaments, Ukraine, Crimea and refugees and close to its Iranian ally also at the expense of the interests of his US partner in NATO, either in Syria or in the region stretching from Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Erdogan's refusal to submit to US sanctions on Iran and the deal of the air defense system S 400. Erdogan's internal policies have angered the United States and directed him towards Erdogan's acrobatic policies, which he plays on the ropes of contradictions of international interests. The harsh American response, especially economically, under the pretext of the American pastor's arrest by the Turkish government, was only a threat to cut off the remaining hair with it unless it conforms to the demands of the Trump administration

In the south of Syria, Israel wants to deprive Iran of a divine victory as long as Hassan Nasrallah speaks of it by pressuring the Russian and US administrations to get it out of Syria before it establishes a Syrian Hezbollah party on its borders in the occupied Golan and consolidates its military bases in Syria which would be difficult to take out later. Trump's radical stance on the nuclear deal with Iran, its ballistic missile program and its interference in the region has cast doubt on the US's intention to weaken Iran's role in the region. Iran continues to play on time as usual. Perhaps a political change in America will change the direction of the game.

Trump's obsession at the Helsinki Summit with Putin was to weaken the role of Iran and Turkey in Syria in exchange for America's launching Putin's hands there. On the other hand, realizes that America is the only country capable of disrupting its policies in Syria and dumping it into its moving sand if it decides to support any possible resistance to the Russian occupation. At the same time, Putin is deeply embarrassed by the fact that he does not have the ability and the means to implement Trump's wishes, not in the Syrian north, where Turkey has stretched into a difficult figure in Russia's calculations, neither in southern Syria. It may be accepted by Iran in the provinces of Daraa and Quneitra in any negotiations leading to its acceptance by the US and Israel and lifting the sanctions, but it will not easily accept them in the governorate of Suwayda, which Iran considered it as an environment conducive to its presence in the south near Damascus, From the Arabian gulf north gate. In this context, the conflict between Israel and Iran intensifies on Mount Arab, and perhaps the cowardly attack by IS on the villages of the eastern and northern mountains, the abduction of women and children and the play in their editing by various parties in the context of the fingers between Iran and Israel on the direction of positioning the mountain in any future political process.

Russia did not expect, as it steals the Geneva process, to make the "curse of Astana" weaken the Syrian and Arab parties in exchange for regional parties (Israel, Iran and Turkey). The exposure of international interests between the United States and its allies on the one hand and the sponsors of Astana on the other hand, and the Russian leadership may be aware of the importance of the message sent to it by the Trump administration, which it will acquire in Syria and in other areas that constitute a link to a dispute with it, especially that Rubble has already experienced the crisis. On the other side, Russia did not expect that the political process that paved the way for military operations in the framework of the agreements and understandings of Astana is more complicated than it is imagined because Astana’s perspective is military based on the rule balance. The most complex issues in the political process are the political transition, refugees and reconstruction, all of which Russia and its member states cannot afford to exclusivate them according to their perspectives. Russia's attempt to present the refugee file to other files such as bidding on European countries that do not end in buying but to gain some time and some political points by appearing keen on humanitarian issues.

There is no doubt that the implementation of the understandings of Astana has imposed new data on the ground, which prevents the return to Geneva in its first version (the Geneva Declaration 1 and Resolution 2254), the opposition that negotiated without the teeth and Turkey, which runs its strongest Islamic wing is concerned above all to secure its area of ​​influence west of the Euphrates and the regime has lost its ability to maneuver politically because of the divisions within it about the survival of Iran in Syria between a section that supports its survival and a section that supports the Russian point of view that converges with US and Israeli requests to leave Iran. In contrast there is America, which leads an international alliance against IS the East Euphrates and supports SDF and  Autonomous Administration led by the Kurds and has nine military bases in it. The international contradictions that dominated the Geneva negotiations became more complicated after Astana than they were before, and thus the chances of returning to the Geneva process vanished unless Russia and America could weaken the role of Turkey and Iran in the north and south of Syria and agree on a new road map based on the intersection of their interests rather than their contradictions. This depends on the compatibility of strategic interests between Presidents Trump and Putin on the disputed issues. Thus, the birth of a new Syria in accordance with the amended Geneva process is linked to Russian-American consensus on other issues that may be postponed at present.

The course of Geneva and the course of Astana took several years, during which they were unable to unite the Syrians at one negotiating table without external influences. They were unable to form a joint committee to discuss one issue and sign a single document. Widening the gap between the Syrians instead of filling them, which in itself constitutes the biggest failure of the Geneva and Astana negotiations Syria. This failure poses a serious question to the Syrians: Why are the national options being transposed to the division of loyalty/opposition, which can be crystallized through national dialogue or direct negotiations between the Syrian parties  representing the Syrian people with all its ethnic, religious, social, cultural and economic components on the basis of the birth of a new Syria to all Syrians?

The encouragement of the United States of the U.S. and the Russian Federation to direct negotiations between Autonomous Administration of East Euphrates represented by SDC and the Government of Damascus on service and political issues of interest to the two sides might constitute if the intentions were true and the wills were free fruiting in the first gesture of national dialogue beyond the curse of Astana and all other curses accelerating the birth of Syria which all Syrians want from the heart of their suffering and according to their national interests.

By: Mahib Saliha

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