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ASSAD AND PUTIN MEET AND PAKISTANI POLICE STORM KHAN'S HOUSE, 61 ARRESTED IN VIOLENT CLASHES

March 16-22, 2023 | Issue 6 - CENTCOM/AFRICOM Team

Benedetta Bisaccia, Ludovica Leccese, Pike Wipperfurth

Steven Jones, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor


Russian Sukhoi Su-24 Fighter Jets Flying Over Syria[1]


Date: March 16, 2023

Location: Syria

Parties involved: Russian President Vladimir Putin; Russian government; Russian military; Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad; Syrian government; Syrian military; US military; Israeli military; Turkish military

The event: Assad met with Putin to discuss several issues, including the war in Ukraine, last month's 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Northern Syria, upcoming economic agreements, and increasing Russian military presence in Syria.[2] Assad expressed interest in making Russian military support permanent, citing concerns about the ongoing conflict in the Middle Eastern country. Russia remains a strategic ally to the regime, providing political and military support in the Syrian civil war since 2015, including reinforcing the Tartus naval facility and the Hmeimim and al-Jarrah military air bases.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Russia’s military presence will likely challenge US-led military interventions in Syria. There is a roughly even chance that Russian troops will conduct strikes against US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, leading to an intensification of tensions between US and Russian forces in Syria. This will likely increase ground-based competition between Russia and the US, with the US likely imposing additional sanctions on Russian and Syrian leadership and criticizing the alliance in international forums.

  • Increased military cooperation between Russia and Syria will very likely change regional airspace dynamics. Airborne US, Israeli, and Turkish operations will likely decrease as Russian air force, air defense, and infrastructure capabilities improve in Syria. There will very likely be an increase in Russian air patrols and the stationing of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, very likely increasing airborne confrontation events in Syrian airspace. There will likely be increasing concerns about Russian and Syrian offensive airstrikes against foreign ground forces and military infrastructure in the country.


Date: March 18, 2023

Location: Lahore, Pakistan

Parties involved: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan; Pakistani government; Pakistani police; Pakistani citizens; Tehreek-e-Insaf movement; Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

The event: Pakistani police stormed the Lahore residence of Khan, arresting 61 of his supporters during violent clashes. The police acted to remove barricades surrounding the residence set up by members of Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf movement, while his supporters resisted with batons, stones, and Molotov cocktails. Illegal structures and bunkers inside of the residence concealed caches of illegal weapons, ammunition, and sheltered individuals who were involved in attacks on police.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The government's crackdown on Prime Minister Khan's supporters will likely exacerbate political tensions in Pakistan. The government’s use of force to suppress dissent will likely lead to increased support for Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf among citizens who feel marginalized by the government. Khan’s supporters will likely express their dissent through violent protests, civil disobedience, and social media activism with a roughly even chance of an escalation to armed conflict.

  • The lack of stability in the country is likely creating an opportunity for TTP to increase its power and the threat it poses, likely leading to an attempt by TTP to increase its presence in the country. TTP is likely to carry out attacks on Pakistani security personnel amid the current political instability, likely using Taliban-controlled areas in eastern Afghanistan to plan the attacks. This will likely result in an escalation of violence in the country, almost certainly worsening current security dynamics and overall political and economic instability in the country.

 

[4] Pakistani police storm home of former PM Khan, arrest 61, AP News, March 2023, https://apnews.com/article/imran-khan-pakistan-c959a4ea0bedd32238581b4b97e810ff

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