Anybody contemplating the official positions and statements being issued by the Arab and international world towards the Syrian crisis will no doubt feel the extent of the diplomatic failure. This is particularly the case when we compare what the al-Assad regime forces are doing on the ground in terms of killing and harassment with Russia and China’s position in particular, which are supportive of the tyrant of Damascus.
The most prominent example here is the Chinese position that is blocking any UN Security Council efforts in this regard. Although it is true that the Chinese are not providing support to al-Assad that is equivalent to what is being provided by the Russians, China’s position strengthens that of Russia. This represents cover for Moscow, which is being inflexible in order to protect the criminal of Damascus, despite all the crimes that he is committing against the Syrian people. It is understood that the meeting between the US Secretary of State and her Chinese counterpart did not result in any breakthrough regarding the situation in Syria, and this is due to the complexity of Sino – American relations. Indeed some believe that China is standing behind Russia at the UN Security Council simply in order to spurn the Americans and that in the event of Moscow changing its position, Beijing will follow suit. Such talk might have been accepted one year ago; however it does not make any sense that there have been no Arab efforts to discourage China from taking this position at the UN Security Council, particularly in light of what al-Assad is doing today in Syria in terms of disasters.
Therefore, what is strange is that the Arab position is unable to convince China of the necessity of distancing itself from supporting al-Assad, and this is in order to protect its interests in the region as a whole, particularly as Beijing has large interests in the region that far outweigh its interests with the al-Assad regime. Of course, it is not required for China to support a UN resolution against al-Assad, or the arming or funding of the Syrian opposition, rather all that is required is for Beijing to refrain from taking any decision at the UN Security Council, including blocking decisive international positions against al-Assad. What is required today is to persuade China of the necessity of not supporting al-Assad, even if the Russians do not change their stance. What is paramount for the Arab world and, of course, internationally, is to expose the Russian position and ensure that Moscow is standing alone with al-Assad, rather than China being a partner to Russia as this is something that eases the pressure on Moscow as it aids al-Assad to carry out crimes against the Syrian people.
Convincing the Chinese should not be too difficult, particularly as the Chinese Foreign Minister said – following his talks with US Secretary of State Clinton – that his country supports political transition in Syria. This indicates that the Chinese position is not as inflexible as that of the Russians, which is based on religious-sectarian grounds, rather than military or economic grounds, as some have claimed. I also do not believe that the issue is to prevent the US from interfering in internal Russian affairs, otherwise how can we explain US President Obama being one of the first to congratulate President Putin following his recent election victory, whilst we also heard Clinton telling her Chinese counterpart of her pride in “the strength and resilience that we have built into our relationship.”
Therefore, what is required today – particularly from the Arabs – is to send a clear message to the Chinese informing them that there is no justification for prolonging the political trading on the blood of the Syrian people, and that Beijing must stand with the Syrians in order to protect their interests in Syria and the region as a whole. The Arabs must do this themselves, rather than being satisfied with whatever Washington can do for us.