For those of you who (like me) could use a primer on Syria, take a look at the attached slides by Deutsche Bank Global Public Affairs (8/26/13). It’s a quick read and provides a user-friendly overview of the basics.
It also outlines Russia’s relationship with Syria. Some highlights:
- “For centuries, a key geopolitical objective of Moscow has been access to a war[m], deep-water port. Additionally, they have wanted one outside of the Bosporus which could give them access to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean.”
- “Despite having 110,310 km of coastline, Russia does not have a single territorial port that is free year round from ice or the constraints of another power (its Black Sea ports depend on Turkey (NATO) allowing Russian ships to pass through the Bosporus).”
- “Syria has allowed Russia to use the deep water naval base in Tartus, Syria – a critical asset in Russian military and geopolitical strategy. Thus, Syria is vital strategic staging point for Russia and Iranian foreign policy in the region.”
- “Earlier this year, due to the escalating violence in Syria, Russia was forced to withdraw her naval forces from Tartus – a naval base granted to Russia by Syria.”
From an historical perspective, Russia has been trying to acquire a port like Tartus at least as far back as the 1500s. So while this isn’t the only reason why Russia is so focused on the situation in Syria, it’s an important factor. Five hundred years is a long time spent trying to get something.