Military and Security DevelopmentsSyria

Russia to open naval school branch in Syria’s Tartus

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – On Sunday, the Syrian port of Tartus witnessed large-scale exercises in preparation for a military parade celebrating the Russian Navy.

Since its military intervention in Syria in September 2015, Russia has taken successive steps to consolidate its presence in Syria as it seeks to establish its interests militarily, economically, socially, and culturally in the country.

On Sunday, submarines and warships of the Russian fleet, in addition to units of the Syrian Navy, participated in the celebration.

The exercises coincided with the Russian Navy’s announcement of the opening of a branch of the Russian Nakhimov Naval School in Tartus, in a new step, according to observers, through which it seeks to “increase its dominance and consolidate its presence in the strategic region.” It is still unclear how the school will be set up and where its students will come from.

On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Russia plans to deliver more than 160 tons of humanitarian aid to Syria, in addition to signing ten agreements between the two countries’ agencies, during the next week.

These steps come within the framework of the Russian-Chinese-Iranian competition to take over the Syrian economy.

In June 2019, Syrian parliament ratified the contract signed by the Tartus Port Company with Russia, which allows Russia to manage the port for a period of 49 years.

The contract culminated in successive Russian steps, which increased the Russian presence in the port, which is the only Russian center in the Middle East, and on the shores of the Mediterranean, which extends to the seventies of the last century.

In 2017, Russian parliament ratified an agreement to entrench Russia’s presence in Syria, paving the way for a permanent military presence at naval and air bases there.

Hmeimim Airport in the countryside of Latakia, which was used by the Russian forces as a base for its air force, was the starting point for consolidating its presence throughout the coast, based on an agreement signed with the Syrian government in August 2015, in which it obtained the right to use this base.

It seems that this presence is no longer related only to military hegemony and highlighting the Russian role in the region, but goes beyond it to a deeper penetration into all aspects of life, from economic to cultural and political, according to observers.

A report by American economic magazine The Syria Report indicates that there is Russian-Iranian competition to obtain contracts in various fields in Syria related to oil extraction and phosphate mining, and the construction of ports worth millions of dollars.

According to the American magazine, Russian companies were usually the victors in contested sectors.

And between 2013 and 2020, Russia won five oil contracts, and in 2018 a Russian company obtained a contract to extract phosphate, which Syria had promised to give to Iran.

In terms of education, the report says, Russia has succeeded in including the Russian language as a second language for education in Syria.

Reporting by Hassan Abdullah

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