Historical Background of Russia-Syria Relations By -Abdur Rahman Fuad


Some events in the history of states are revolutionary because they close a period and open a new era. There are three important events in Russian history that can be described as revolution. These are the Tsarist Periods, where the absolute monarchy was dominant and ended with the Bolshevik revolution. The Soviet Union of Socialist Republics (Soviet Socialist Republics), which started with the revolution of 1917 and continued until 1991, is the period of the Russian Federation beginning with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In the Tsarist times ruled by the absolute monarchy, the Russian foreign policy, which was focused on the victory, was adopted based on ideology in the first years of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) period and adopted a foreign policy mentality that based on hostility to the Western bloc in the world system formed after World War II.
After the disintegration of the USSR, Russia carried out policies dealing with the West under the influence of the liberals during the Yeltsin period. Russia has aimed to regulate the “Near area” (relation with the near countries) policy and the control of the old dominance areas, which were introduced from 1993 onward. The financial crises that Russia has in the execution of these policies can be attributed to the economic dependence on Europe and the USA. This policy is mainly based on the protection of rights of the Russians living outside the Russian Federation. By Putin’s coming to power, the “Near area” policy has been revised and a foreign policy mentality shaped in the axis of “Eurasianism” has been adopted. Eurasianism is a social and ideological policy. With Putin’s power, the pain of the transition period was partially overcome and with the effective use of the energy component in foreign policy, Russia became a lender from a borrowing country. By 2000, on the basis of its influence on the periphery, A foreign policy understanding dominates the international scene on the basis of lost power and prestige.
The Arab Spring, which started in January 2010, led to administrative changes and the beginning of the reform process in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain. The events in Syria, perhaps the longest Arab Spring, have continued since March 2011. Russia, China and Iran, which oppose any external intervention in the face of the West and against the states trying to make resolutions under the UN framework, arguing that the problems in Syria are an internal matter. Russia, China and Iran have been actively involved in conflicts, although they had been said and see conflicts in Syria as an internal matter.
In the fall of 2015, Russia began to use active military force against Assad opposition groups and changed the balances in Syria. The use of Russia’s military power to support the Assad regime and the strengthening of its presence in Syria suggested that the interest of the region should be examined from depth. Including countries such as NATO and the EU, Russia has expressed in every occasion that it is uncomfortable in this situation and has embodied this inconvenience with the annexation of Crimea. Hafez al Asad, who took over the presidency based on the alliance of Russia with the Assad regime. The reason why Russia is obliged to help Syria that is not to be indifferent to global affairs, to protect energy security and its bases in the Mediterranean Protection reflex that’s the leading cause of Russia’s active intervention in the Syrian crisis. In this article, Russia’s active intervention in the Syrian crisis will be discussed; It was introduced with the general lines of Russia, the basic dynamics of Russian foreign policy and analysis of Russia’s Syrian policy was made. Russia’s aggressive intervention in Syria is a global hurdle, the reasons for this intervention have been examined in details.

Analysis of the Syrian Policy of the Russian Federation
The Middle East is one of the most original and most complex regions of the world. It is highly prevalent for global and regional actors due to the fact ofthe complex lived on this civilization, Semali religions are born and rooted in these lands because of their strategic location. The richness of the energy resources that’s are possessed of cause for actors who want to benefit from this richness and to fight each other. The Arab Spring, which emerged in late 2010 and under the influence of all Middle Eastern countries and even forced some to change in the regime, shortly thereafter showed itself in Syria. The course of the civil uprisings ups and downs during the Arab Spring period in different situation according to the countries. In Syria, however, the regime has strengthened its position against opposition groups, result iscreating a tragic and chaotic environment in the country that’s situation has beenknown to the world.In the cold war period, by affectedthe near countries the battle between the western bloc and the eastern bloc and the power struggles of the same actors in the post-cold war era are on the same scene. The US, which is trying to design the region and several western states around it and are continuing the race of hegemony over the Russian regional countries supported by China. In this regard, Syria has always maintained its position as a good ally of Russia in the middle east. In the continuity of this relationship between Russia and Syria, Syria’s regional position has been one of the decisive reasons. On the other hand,Iran has caused it to become more chaotic because of the sectarian-based approach of taking the side of Russia in this chaotic environment. There has been a bilateral grouping in global politics since the beginning of the conflicts in Syria. The first group of the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and Turkey believes that the peace and stability in Syria can come from the power of Basar al-Assad and shows a political attitude accordingly. (But at now Turkey’s steps over Syria so different and changed for its internalcauses not like as NATO or Western bloc. The Syria’s scene may be get rids of after Astana conference (January 23) by Turkey’s mediation).Basar al-Assad, on the other hand, seems to be not the solution for Syria. (But now may be a solution can open a door for Syria by reaching an understandingamong the Turkey, Russia, Iran, Syrian government and opposition parties).This discussionnot to go in this article as if we follow the main theme. The second group, which insists that democracy will not come to any country with an intervention from the outside that is determined by the leadership of Russia. The attitude of Russia is due to the fact that the order to be established in Syria and the west is going to lose its power in the region.
In this context, Russia, China and Iran are often recalling that they have not been warm to the intervention of Syria. On the other hand, they are acting largely in the direction of global competition and their own interests. As a result, the civil war in Syria continues. Syria becomes an unbearable country and the world faces a serious refugee problem. With its geopolitical and geostrategic position, Syria is the forefront issues for Russia. Russia does not want regime change in Syria. Being afraid that a possible regime change may lead to further instability in the region, Russia thinks that the tension between Iran and Israel will be fired by a change that can occur in Syria and it can harm its own regional interests. In view of the region’s peoples, the follow-up of a policy based on Russia’s outcome is criticized, while the support is given by authoritarian regimes and leaders in the region is welcomed. In addition to all these geopolitical interests, Russia, which appeals to a unipolar world order, does not want the policies of the US leadership to come forward in the Middle East. Russia’s most important reason that’s the underlying its active policy towards the Syrian crisis thatiscreate exists in the world power balance, and it declares that it wants to be a global power again.
Middle east is an important region, while Syria stands for “important entrance gate” for Russia and China for its position. China looks at the developments in the region, energy and raw materials supply security for its country and in the side of the current administration opposition movements. Tartus port in the Mediterranean is the only the base of Russia can show its flag in this region. This base, which was granted under the agreement made in 1971 during the Soviet Union, has not lost its influence even after the end of the cold war. Nearly all of the weapons in Syria, Russia has been supporting arms since the war. The change of administration in Syria will have very important effects for Russia in the interests of these. In the case,the change of regime and the realization of a national modernization, instinctively it will be very difficult for Russia to continue its activities in this region. In this case, Russia will make the port of Tartus, which it holds with a bargain. If the regime changes and the current opposition group comes to the power, the developments of Syria, relations with the United States and its regional allies can be counter-productiveforRussia in the interest fields. This situation pushes Russia actively to the Syrian crisis. Another parameter of Russia ‘s Syrian policy is that Russia, which lost its territory to the United States through the Cold War, are able to re-dominatethis region. Russia is still trying to compete against the United States even in this region. After the Cold War, Russia could not tolerate the loss of Syria, which could lose its allies. The convergence of Putin with the Assad administration accelerated with a visit to Bashar al-Assad in Moscow in 2005 and in 2010 the Kremlin made a return visit to declare that other states in the region and the western bloc behind the Damascus. Russia is concerned about the chaotic situation and the prospect of a leap to Central Asia and the Caucasus, which Russia considers it to be the “backdrop” of Russia. For this reason, Russia supports the Syrian government and sells serious amounts of weapons.
The air base established in the Lazkiye, located on the north-west of Syria, the focal point of Russia, has a strategic precaution. Russia has an active role in this region. The air base to be established at a strategic point as it wants to carry out a military operation that is a great advantage for aircrafts to return quickly and store fuel and fulfill their duties and this strategic reserve has become a small sea base ofRussia. By 2015, in other words, it began to use its military capabilities to ensure the permanence of the Syrian administration and to destroy the terrorist groups in the region and thiswas the Russia’s game in Syria. The intervention of Syria by using Russia’s military power points out that power balance calculations should be re-established in East. Russia’s strategic position as a dominant player in Syria strengthens both the positions of other actors and the expectation that new developments may emerge in the Middle East. Initially Russia was not expected to directly intervene in the Syrian crisis; Russia’s direct military use of power in Syria, however, has put Russia in an advantageous position, according to the US, which implements policy through regional actors and forces the west to re-enact its policies. Syria has an important place in the politics for the future of Russia. These policies do not want Russia to accept the idea of ??becoming stronger and leading in the Middle East and on the international platform thatthe Syrian problem cannot be solved without Russia. (Everything is correct at now in this stage). The desire to use the Tartus Port located in the Eastern Mediterranean, which is the most suitable military port for him, makes it important for Russia to view this port as a gateway for Russia to Syria as a gateway to the Middle East. The fact that Russia continues to sell weapons to Syria in a significant amount that indicates there are other dimensions of relations with Syria as well. Russian states are constantly looking at two issues while investigating the reasons for Russia’s support for Syria. The first is Russia’s export of arms to Syria and the other is the presence of the Tartus port where Russian troops are located. These are important topics of course, but it is not enough to explain the subject. The main drawback of Russia is the spread of radical Islam to the world, thus the fear of losing its status in the world and the increasing unilateral military interventions of Western countries. Russia carries out a systematic and strategic Syrian policy in line with its own interests. As international pressure increases, Russia’s multifaceted policies are also diminishing. For these reasons, the politics that Russia will follow from now on will not only affect the balances in Syria but also the position of Russia in the region directly. Both the desire to be a global power, the regional interests in the Middle East, the unity of the people with the Syrian regime and the geo-political position of Syria have influenced the shaping of Syria’s in Russia’s policies.
The fact that Russia wants to protect is not Syria and Syrians but the Syrian government. The overthrow of the Syrian government, which has hosted its own strategic interests, is not a situation that Russia might want. It is also undesirable for Russia that Syria is owned by the Mediterranean and that Russia’s military base by using Tartus port in this country, is threatened by a change of direction. It will also cause the region to fall into a hegemonic state like the US and to become a completely ineffective country in the region. Russia’s desire to take place effectively in the Arab Spring, which has become a civil war in Syria that is an attempt to use the situation of Syria which is left alone in the international system in its favor. Russia is trying to emphasize that it is the position of an actor who provides a solution for the problems of the international system by sending a message to the West via Syria.
Abdur Rahman Fuad is studying Master’s at the Necmettin Erbakan University, Turkey.
Translated from: Rusya-Süriye?li?kilerinin Tarihsel Arka Plan?by- Osman A??rand Meram Takar