18:59 GMT +319 November 2019
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    A civil defence member works amid burning vehicles at a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel held besieged Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria, February 26, 2017.

    'Future of Syria and Middle East Depends' on Cooperation Between Russia and Iran

    © REUTERS / Bassam Khabieh
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    Russia and Iran are capable of stabilizing Syria and the Middle East if they deepen bilateral relations, Vzglyad columnist Petr Akopov asserted, commenting on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's ongoing visit to Moscow.

    "To a large extent the future of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East depends on Moscow and Tehran and whether their activities are coordinated," he observed. Furthermore, "our cooperation is capable of bringing peace and ensuring order in a vast area, stretching from the Mediterranean to Pakistan."

    President Hassan Rouhani is on a two-day visit to Russia. On Tuesday, he is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation in various areas, including energy, investment and transport. However, security issues are expected to feature prominently during the talks.

    Akopov referred to Iran as "one of the most significant countries" for Russia in the world, placing the Islamic Republic on the same list as China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Turkey and the United States. He pointed to Russia's cooperation with Iran and Turkey as a promising initiative that could have major security implications for the Middle East.

    Moscow, Ankara and Tehran "could pave the way for a new chapter in the history of the Middle East" if they expand cooperation beyond Syria, the analyst said. This new stage would entail regional stakeholders resolving key challenges, while outside forces, notably the United States and Great Britain, would have a more limited role.

    "If Russia, Iran and Turkey manage to put an end to the Syrian conflict, this will be a turning point for the region in general," Akopov suggested.

    Moscow, Ankara and Tehran brokered a nationwide ceasefire in Syria in late December 2016. The truce paved the way for a series of summits in Kazakhstan, which saw representatives of Damascus and armed opposition groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad meet for the first time since the Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011. These efforts are expected to facilitate the fragile peace process in Syria.

    Akopov further mentioned that both countries will greatly benefit from deepening cooperation in trade, energy and infrastructure.

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    cooperation, security, Syrian conflict, Syrian crisis, Hassan Rouhani, Vladimir Putin, Middle East, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Russia
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