Andrei Ontikov, foreign affairs commentator Three years of struggle and victories / SCO Shanghai Cooperation Organization

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Three years of struggle and victories
30.01.2019 15:35 Andrei Ontikov, foreign affairs commentator

Three years ago, Russia launched a military operation in Syria. This step demonstrated that the fight against terrorism is an absolute priority of foreign policy for Moscow. Moreover, the Russian leadership made it clear that the UN Charter is not some obsolete piece of paper, but a document that still obliges to play by certain rules.

And above all, it concerns the inadmissibility of overthrowing the legitimate authorities, if suddenly someone had such a whim. And this was done when a domino effect has already begun in the region: legitimate governments fell in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, and the entire region fell into the abyss of political instability and civil wars. As for Syria, it was obvious by 2015: a little more and this country would join the number of the victims of the Arab Spring raging in the Middle East. with one significant difference, though. The prospect of becoming the capital of a terrorist pseudo-state under the leadership of ISIS (the organizations activity is outlawed in Russia) was looming over Damascus.

By September, the rebels of this organization, as well as Jabhat al-Nusra (the organizations activity is outlawed in Russia), and other extremist structures had full or partial control over the provinces of Damascus, Hama, Homs, Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, Idlib and several others. At the same time, the international coalition against terrorism led by the United States practically silently watched the attack of the rebels and pretended not to notice what was happening. In such conditions, the Russian military operation began. Now, three years later, Moscow has actually proved that it is capable of confronting, hundreds of kilometers away from its own borders, trained fighters who have four years of combat experience, receive weapons, supplies, medicines and other assistance from a number of western and Eastern European countries, as well as states of the Middle East and North Africa. Territories held by ISIS terrorists have decreased to 23% of the total area of Syria. Fights against the remnants have been led by the Kurds for more than half a year with the support of the Americans. why so long is another story. But now many areas of the country are completely safe, there is a restoration of destroyed houses, factories and infrastructure. The refugees however, while in a relatively small number started to come home from abroad. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, about 1.5 million people have returned to their homes in Syria.

Meanwhile, even after three years of incessant hostilities, and despite obvious successes, it is still too early to relax. It is primarily about the province of Idlib, where tens of thousands of rebels still operate. So far, the settlement of the situation in that area is dictated by the agreement between Russia and Turkey. Soon there will be a demilitarized zone, from which radicals with heavy weapons will be withdrawn. what comes next is an open question.

will thousands of armed Islamists put up with defeat, will they be able to resist new attacks on residents of the surrounding cities, stop bloody confrontation among themselves and solve the most serious humanitarian problems of residents of the Idlib province? will the existence of a terrorist enclave bring a political settlement and prospects for a peaceful life for Syrians closer? Answers to these questions will be given in the coming months, but one thing is already clear: Syria has managed to put an end to the spread of terrorism in the Middle East and reverse the destabilization of the entire region. In the end, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the other day, there are only two options: Terrorists must be eliminated, or they must be punished and brought to justice.

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