Germany and Great Game in Syria

Germany's Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer proposed the establishment of an internationally controlled security zone in Syria in cooperation with European partners, as well as Turkey and Russia.This is a convulsive attempt to raise the EU flag with the last force, writes Alexander Rahr, Research Director at the German-Russian Forum.

Exactly thirty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell, and the Cold War ended – the liberal world order emerged, based on the power of the United States and the enlarged European Union. This world order has now come to an end – in Syria. The Middle East is probably lost to the West. America is withdrawing from this region, which has always been a pillar of the global security order. As a supposed last step, the US could still say goodbye to Europe – with all the consequences for NATO.

The world order becomes multipolar; China and Russia are filling the geopolitical vacuum left by the US. The EU is facing the self-inflicted shambles. Instead of clinging to the rocks of the US for the last thirty years, Europe should have installed its own security policy.

The EU's strategic poverty is expressed in its entirety in the proposal of CDU Chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to install a security zone in northern Syria. This is a convulsive attempt to raise the EU flag with the last force. It is true that the coalition partner SPD reacts with reservations to the proposal.

Who should protect the security zone and for how long? Would there end up being an independent Kurdish state with European support? Turkey wants to prevent this with all its might: hence Recep Tayyip Erdogan's military intervention in northern Syria.

Turkey-Russia in the Post-US Syria: Can They Manage Their Differences?
Galip Dalay
With the US troops on their way out of Syria, Russia is now the most important arbiter among different conflicting parties in Syrian scene. To put it differently, all the roads will lead to Moscow for the next stage in Syrian conflict. Though this gives more leverage to Russia, this will also put more onus on the Russian shoulders.
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Now Germany wants to take Russia's interests in Syria into account. But no one is waiting for the EU in Syria any more. The great regulatory power in the Middle East is Russia, which has even managed to approximate the opposing positions of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Vladimir Putin wants to help Bashar Assad reunite his country, recapture opposition-occupied territory, including Kurdish-controlled territory.

Moscow, Ankara, and Damascus have long agreed on the future of Syria – the EU has slept through development or had blindly hoped for the continuation of the US design role.

The American "deep state" acting against its own president, in cooperation with the EU elites, could try to prevent the US withdrawal from the Middle East. But it is too late, a military return to Syria would put the West on a direct confrontation with Russia and Turkey. Turkey could then leave NATO just as Britain could leave the EU. The chaos would be perfect.

Kramp-Karrenbauer's proposal could fizzle out if even the Federal Foreign Ministry, let alone France, does not support it. Probably the proposal will fail for the reason that Germany will be unable to send its own troops into the danger zone. In the end, Kramp-Karrenbauer's candidacy for chancellor is damaged. Their foreign policy expertise will be in doubt.

There is, however, a way to cooperate with all interested forces in Syria. The proposal for a stability pact for the damaged country is on the table. It was discussed at the last summit between Putin and Angela Merkel in Sochi.

Assad must accept a multi-ethnic constitution, amnesty for the rebels and free elections. Russia, the neighbouring countries and the EU should be jointly involved in the reconstruction. Refugees can return to their homeland if the security situation changes. This humanitarian project takes precedence over the geopolitical Great Game.

Can Erdogan Consolidate Success in Northern Syria After Meeting with Putin?
Heiko Wimmen
Whether Turkey will resume its military operations to crush the YPG and expand the area it controls may ultimately depend on the position of Russia. Erdogan is expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi on 22 October, just when the deadline for a YPG withdrawal expires.
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