The collapse of the collection of NATO-Saudi backed Wahhabi Jihadists in Syria will go down as a seminal moment in the history of the Middle East. The engine that brought about their collapse and secured Assad regime’s survival was the Iranian ground intervention followed by Russian air intervention. The consistency of this dual intervention turned the tide against a powerful coalition of violent Sunni Jihadists-turned mercenaries, whose brutality was matched by that of Assad regime.
For Russia, this has been a formative geo-strategic victory as it has secured much of the territorial integrity of Syria and destroyed Jihadists that were not far from its geopolitical backyard.
Going forward, it remains to be seen what policy Russia will have towards Syria’s Kurds in the north and what arrangement Moscow will have with Washington once Raqqa collapses and falls back into the hands of Assad forces.
Russia now needs to devise a post-ISIS policy that could be challenged by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Qatar, countries that saw their strategic and geo-energy interests in Syria’s territorial disintegration. As for Turkey, following its humiliation in Aleppo, it underwent a drastic about-face in its Syria policy and joined the Russian-Iranian peace negotiations held in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Russia faces a crucial question: whether it is ready and willing to confront the next potential regime change project in the region.