DO ALL ROADS LEAD TO DA­M­AS­CUS?

The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - ARAB MEDIA -

Al-Khaleej al-Jadeed, UAE, Oc­to­ber 24

The Amer­i­can me­dia has been wag­ing an in­ces­sant war against [US Pres­i­dent Don­ald] Trump, of­ten por­tray­ing mere spec­u­la­tions about him as truths set in stone

Last week, the Na­sib Bor­der Cross­ing, once the busiest bor­der cross­ing lo­cated be­tween Jor­dan and Syria, re­opened for traf­fic. The cross­ing had been closed since 2015, when it fell into the hands of the Free Syr­ian Army, and had re­mained shut since. Last week this fi­nally changed, when Jor­da­nian author­i­ties re­opened the cross­ing.

Jor­dan is not the only coun­try to be­gin restor­ing for­mal ties with Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s regime. On its western front, Syria’s bor­der cross­ing with the Is­raeli-oc­cu­pied Golan Heights was qui­etly re­opened in re­cent weeks, most notably to al­low the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Druze fam­i­lies. The same hap­pened on Syria’s east­ern bor­der with Iraq, where the Abu Ka­mal cross­ing had been re­opened in re­cent weeks. All of these de­vel­op­ments seem to sug­gest that As­sad is on the right path to­ward gain­ing the in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion and le­git­i­macy he needs.

Yet there is still one Syr­ian bor­der cross­ing that re­mains highly prob­lem­atic: that in the north, be­tween Syria and Turkey. The ter­ri­tory sur­round­ing the Turk­ish bor­der is dom­i­nated by two sep­a­rate blocs: Kur­dish sep­a­ratists on one side and Turk­ish forces on the other. Both seek to ex­ert their in­flu­ence in the re­gion and have the fi­nal say over what hap­pens in this ter­ri­tory. In or­der to reaf­firm his sovereignty, As­sad is in des­per­ate need of set­tling the fi­nal sta­tus of these bor­ders and restor­ing his power over them.

How­ever, ten­sions be­tween Moscow and Wash­ing­ton cast a heavy doubt over his abil­ity to do so. The Amer­i­cans want to en­sure that no bor­der cross­ing is used to fa­cil­i­tate the move­ment of Ira­nian troops or ar­ma­ments into Syria. Moscow, mean­while, has no real in­flu­ence over a peace agree­ment in Syria with­out the sup­port of Europe and the United States. In this vac­uum that has been cre­ated, As­sad is do­ing any­thing he can to gain a de facto author­ity and de­fine the fi­nal bor­ders of his coun­try. – Abd al-Wa­hab Badrakan

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