Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Why are we kowtowing to Russia? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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I do not understand why there is this on-going insistence – over the past 18 months – to persuade the Russians to abandon the al-Assad regime in Syria, particularly after the Kremlin’s stubbornness has become apparent. Why has this been the focus of Arab efforts, even today, regarding attempts to stop the genocide in Syria?

The master of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin, has been clear and consistent in his position of backing Bashar al-Assad, supporting him with arms and experts, protecting him at the UN Security Council, and defending him in front of the international community. Indeed, Russia has even printed Syrian currency after Europe passed sanctions banning this.

In the beginning, we could only guess at the reasons behind Russia’s position, whilst Gulf delegations and Syrian opposition forces visited Moscow and tried to decipher the Russian puzzle with one hand, whilst carrying gifts and pledges in the other. We said: maybe the Russians have been taken in by al-Assad’s arguments, maybe they are concerned with their future interests or afraid of Islamist extremists, or perhaps they have taken this position out of love of material interests. However these were all raised and dealt with, but to no avail.

Today, after more than one year of such visits and meetings and gifts and deals, it is clear that the reason behind Russia’s position is not important, the only remaining conclusion is that Russia will stand with Bashar al-Assad until the end, even if they have now begun to use ornate language to justify their embarrassing position.

Even if Russia changed its position today, it is too late for this to mean anything. The Russians helped to prolong the war, and they contributed to the killing with the death toll now standing at 50,000. This has been accompanied by the destruction of most of Syria’s cities, whilst more than 3 million Syrians have fled the country. So what value would Russia changing its position have today? Truly nothing! If the Russians abandon al-Assad he will fall within one month, whilst the rebels will have paid a heavy price, whilst if they do not abandon him, he will fall in two months. It is too late to reduce losses and the entire situation has become inverted as stopping the war now will only serve to reduce the losses of al-Assad and his group!

We had hoped that the Russians would intervene over the past 20 months so that they could be partners in peace, but they – along with Iran – chose to partner al-Assad in his crimes. We looked forward to a quick end to the bloodshed in order to stop any revenge and counter-revenge and to establish a civil state that represents all Syrians, however the prolonging and expansion of the conflict by al-Assad’s allies prepared the ground for the emergence of terrorist groups and internal division. There is no longer enough time for a smooth and peaceful transition, as the optimistic – such as UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi – claim.

Therefore, why is there such concern about Russia and this pilgrimage to Moscow when it is ultimately responsible for leading Syria into this quagmire of blood? For more than a year we have been well aware that the al-Assad regime is doomed, and it is no longer even able to provide sufficient fuel for its thousands of tanks to destroy houses, whilst it does not possess sufficient ammunition to supply its fighter jets and continue destroying Syria’s cities on a daily basis. We knew, and the Russians were also aware, that it is impossible for any regime to remain in power when the majority of its people are revolting against it, regardless of its capabilities. The outcome of this revolution was always known, the only unknown was just precisely how the regime would fall.

Therefore, we no longer want to see this entreating of the Russians, for the bereaved who have lose parents, children, family members and friends can never agree with or accept any of the solutions backed by Russia.