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Do All Roads Lead To Damascus?

Al-Khaleej al-Jadeed, UAE, October 24

Last week, the Nasib Border Crossing, once the busiest border crossing between Jordan and Syria, reopened for traffic. The crossing has been closed since 2015, when it fell into the hands of the Free Syrian Army, and has 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 Bashar al-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 re-opened in recent weeks. All of these developments seem to suggest that Assad is on the right path towards gaining the international recognition and legitimacy he needs. Yet there is still one Syrian border crossings 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 have 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 de facto authority and define the final borders of his country. –Abd al-Wahab Badrakan

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