Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Syria and the Russian hypocrisy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syrian presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban had every right to call it a “historic day” when Russia and China used their veto at the UN Security Council to prevent a draft resolution calling for “targeted measures” against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Of course it was a historic day, because on this day the Syrians, along with the Arabs, became aware that the dictatorial regime in Syria – which murders its own citizens, subjects them to the worst kinds of abuse, and doesn’t hesitate to use force and fuel sectarian violence – is a regime that enjoys genuine protection from both China and Russia, particularly from the Russians who are practicing political hypocrisy in every sense of the word.

Of course, it is no secret that China rejects any resolution against the al-Assad regime, because it fears for its future. China was expected either to abstain from voting for this reason – as it possesses a track record of abstaining from voting in this manner – or explicitly use its veto in order to protect its commercial influence. As for Moscow, its game – and political hypocrisy – is clear. The Russians know that in the event of the collapse of the al-Assad regime, they will lose another Arab regime that they could use to blackmail the Americans and the Europeans with regards to any pending issues or economic projects. Arab dictatorial regimes have always served as a platform for Moscow to stand upon, to strengthen its negotiating position on a number of issues. The collapse of the al-Assad regime would mean that there would no longer be any Arab regime that the Russians could benefit from, as they did during the Cold War era from Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt’s, or as they benefited from the Saddam Hussein era [in Iraq], and after that Muammar Gaddafi [in Libya]. Today, the Russians are trying not to lose their last extortion card in our region, namely the al-Assad regime.

When I say that Russia’s hypocrisy is as clear as day, this is not an overstatement. On the same day that Russia used its veto at the UN Security Council to prevent the draft resolution against the al-Assad regime, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Ukashević, announced that his country intends to “receive two delegations from the Syrian opposition this October, one representing the internal opposition present in Damascus, and a second representing the opposition which, in Istanbul, founded what has become known as the Syrian National Council”. What we must note here is that this was not only an invitation to visit Moscow, but also for a meeting within the Russian Foreign Ministry itself. If this is not political hypocrisy, and trading on the pain and suffering of the Syrians, then what is it?

It is clear to everyone today that the Russians want to establish a foothold in Syria, along the following lines: either by using their veto in favor of the al-Assad regime, in which case the Russians will benefit if al-Assad manages to survive the Syrian popular revolution, or alternatively the Russians can try to win over the Syrian rebels through the invitation that was made to the opposition on the same day that Russia used its veto at the UN!

This much is clear, but how can the Russians support the al-Assad regime, and justify this by claiming that there are terrorist groups within Syria, then invite the opposition to visit Russia on the same day, particularly if Moscow believes that there are terrorists in their ranks? This is something that makes no sense!