Syria President Bashar Assad declared this week that Russian military forces are needed in Syria long-term, for in his words, not just fighting terrorism, but for stability and ‘global balance.’ What he really meant is Russian armed forces are needed in Syria to keep him in power long-term.
“Russian armed forces are needed for balance in our region, at least in the Middle East, until the global political balance changes. And this might not even happen, we do not know. So it is important and necessary,” Interfax news agency cited Assad as saying in an interview with Russian media. He added that Syria’s agreement with Russia over the Hmeimim military base was signed to last over 40 years, indicating that the relationship between the two countries was of a long-term nature, Interfax reported, wrote The Moscow Times.
Russia has secured long-term leases for its Soviet, now Russian, naval base at Tartus and for its airbase at Hmeimim, near Latakia.
“We call on refugees, especially on Syrians who had businesses here, to return,” TASS news agency cited Assad as saying. Russia and Syria are now calling for refugee return, now that the war is in its final phases and rebel forces are quickly being routed in the remaining pockets of resistance.
Assad also commented on the ‘White Helmets’ which the West sees as volunteers who have saved countless lives. Russia and Syria see them as rebel sympathizers. “The fate of “White Helmets” is the same as of any terrorist,” Interfax cited the Syrian leader as saying.
“They have two options: lay down their arms and use the amnesty, as has been going on for the past four of five years, or be liquidated, like any other terrorist,” Interfax quoted Assad as saying.
The real question is not whether Russian forces will stay in Syria, that is a given; the question is how much of Syria will be occupied by Iranian forces and their proxy armies.