Arab News: “Assad duped by Russian masters over Abkhazia and South Ossetia“

1 Jun 2018

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By Gvantsa Gabekhadze

Review by the Journalist of,1 Jun 2018 Tbilisi,Georgia

Syria's recognition of independence of Georgia's occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali showcases the dependence of Bashar al-Assad's government on that of Vladimir Putin, says a new piece at Arab News.

Coming from Luke Coffey of Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based organisation promoting conservative policies, the article describes the move as an odd decision considering fractures inside Syria itself.

[A]fter more than seven years of civil war, it is [...] a de facto partitioned country. Certain groups, like the Syrian Kurds in the northeast of the country, are clamouring for international support and recognition for independence", the author says.

Al-Assad's announcement of the recognition shows the influence exerted over it by the Russian government, while also being a piece in the larger geopolitical picture for Putin.

 The Kremlin sees issues like competition in the Arctic, the war in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, influence in the South Caucasus, intimidation of the Baltic states, meddling in the Balkans, and its role in Syria as all being interconnected. All of these geopolitical challenges are simply pieces in a larger grand strategy pursued by Moscow to maximise Russian influence", the piece notes.

Coffey also describes the Russian military presence in the two occupied regions of Georgia and concludes by suggesting the recognition of their independence showed "Syria was duped by Russia".

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