If the Assad regime – hated by the Saudis – is gone, they are next in line
Russian military aircraft strikes on Islamic State, the an-Nusra Front and other terrorist organizations on Syrian territory are gaining intensity. Four missile carrier ships have joined the Air Forces. They have launched 26 aerodynamic missiles at 11 targets. Since September 30th 19 commander points, 12 arms depots, 71 war material units, plants, and workshops with handmade bombs have been destroyed, Sergey Shoigu, the Defense Minister of Russia, told President Vladimir Putin.
Putin shared information on efforts by the diplomatic corps to settle the Syrian crisis with the Minister: “President Hollande of France expressed an interesting idea to unite the efforts of the government.army of President Assad and the so-called Free Syrian Army. However, we don’t know who is heading it. It could create positive grounds for a further political settlement of the Syrian crisis.” Putin also stressed the need to work with foreign partners, as without the participation of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the U.S., Iran, Iraq and neighboring countries, the work couldn’t be organized appropriately.
Meanwhile, Andrei Baklanov, Deputy Chairman of the Association of Russian diplomats, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, thinks that regional countries remain prisoners of their traditional approaches to the situation in the Middle East: “Now our diplomatic activity is aimed at somehow sticking together a possible widen coalition as part of the proposal that we voiced not so long ago. The position of Saudi Arabia is of particular importance. As I understand, there have been no special achievements in terms of changing their views to be more realistic for today. Perhaps we will be able to agree more clearly during the upcoming talks with the King of Saudi Arabia, in preparing these negotiations, because we are getting out of the crisis slowly in other areas of Russian-Saudi cooperation, but not on the Syrian issue.”
According to Baklanov’s information, “in Saudi Arabia, there are traditionally two fighting ideologies, one is more realistic, and another is military.” If the military line wins, everything is pretty tragic. “We remember the outcome of the events in Afghanistan in 2001, when Saudi Arabia was in isolation trying to justify its actions along with those who participated. Then these people were moved away from influencing foreign policy. And the situation began to improve in the 2000s. Again, there was the agreement on cooperation and security with Tehran ready to be signed. Then again the hardliners won, which we are currently witnessing. It is the very beginning of the coalition folding, and the work is not going well so far.”
Baklanov thinks that Riyadh should understand that if Syria falls, and the hated Assad regime is gone, they are next in line: “There are powerful groups in ISIS that say that the oil does not belong to those who have it, and it is necessary to deal with the holy places, because they have been usurped by the Saudis. This, incidentally, is not a new thesis. In London, there have always been groups which appeal with propaganda to the believers. They haven’t had much success, but they can have success in a new environment,” Baklanov predicts.
He says that there is much political work to be done, directed at bringing down not only those who are now in Baghdad almost beginning to interact, but also a number of other countries, “because without them, it would be not so easy to defeat ISIS for sure.”