In part 6 of “Why Assad wasn’t, won’t be Defeated?” we will tackle the stands of international powers towards the Syrian crisis and its shifts, as well as the potential of reaching a multi-polar world.
The most significant manifestations of the Syrian crisis is the dispersion on the international ground toward the way to deal with this crisis in a scene that recalls the cold war and the diversity of axes between eastern, western, capitalist and socialist, after the Syrian crisis has created a sort of balance between the major powers following more than a couple of decades of the American hegemony.
The current international dispersion doesn’t necessarily mean that the United States is almost retreating and leaving reins to other powers in the region. Yet the Washington crises in the past few years, among which are its wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, as well as the “treasury debt,” made the American administration retreat, paving the way for international powers, atop of which are Russia and China and the BRICS countries, to raise their voice in an escalating manner, warning that the world has changed and the uni-polar policy became useless. This was revealed by its dealing with the crisis in Syria.
This dispersion is not limited to the mentioned countries; it is also applicable on many Arab countries that became to be conservative toward the Arab League’s way in dealing with the Syrian crisis. It was publicly and privately reported that some countries are powerless and cannot “oppose” the systematic escalation by western and gulf sides against Damascus.
Even though these sides, led by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, were able to exclude Syria from the League and grant its seat to the Opposition Coalition, as well as getting more involved in escalating the crisis by funding and arming the armed groups, however they couldn’t reflect this nationwide especially in the United Nations Organization.
“Playing with the big boys,” perhaps, is totally different, especially if these were as big as Russia and China and the other BRICS member states, in addition to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Those countries, along more than two years, were stuck to a peaceful solution for the crisis in Syria throughout local dialogue afar from foreign intervention and imposing western and regional agendas on Damascus, warning at the same time from repeating the Libyan scenario.
A Tempting Crisis and Unspoken Goals
There is no doubt that Syria, with its strategic and geopolitical position became throughout history a point of attraction for major and colonial powers. Thus, its current crisis tempted scores to execute their own agendas, taking advantages of the bloody events inside the country.
The Main Goals of those Powers
• The United States: Seeks weakening Syria and affecting its regional role in which it dissociates its army and deplete its allies in the axis of resistance, noting that the most important goal is securing the Zionist entity.
• Britain and France: Seek booking a role in the Middle East starting from Syria in light of information about an abundance of oil in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean. In addition to securing the Zionist entity for being the protector of the western interests.
• “Israel”: Its main goal is to weaken the Syrian army’s abilities and topple President Bashar Assad to harm the axis of resistance that spreads all over Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. It expresses this publicly and works secretly to achieve this goal.
• Turkey: Seeks restoring the glories of the Ottoman Empire and return to the Arab World through the Syrian gate to achieve its goals and appear as a main regional player in light of the retreat of the Saudi and Egyptian role in the region.
• Saudi Arabia: It aims at settling old issues with the Syrian leadership and hitting its political choices to disconnect Iran from the resistance movements in the region.
• Qatar: With its monetary and oil resources it plays a role that highly surpasses its size. It seeks achieving Washington and Tel Aviv’s goals, as well as supporting some “Islamist” movements to achieve its political enterprise even though it contradicts with the vision of some Gulf countries atop of which is Saudi Arabia.
What do the others need?
On the other side appears Iran, the BRICS countries, in addition to Russia and China that confronted the attempt to target Damascus in the UN Security Council by vetoing several resolutions that were aimed to pave the way in front of the intervention in Syria just like what happened in Libya.
Russia… a Stand and Interests
Moscow considers that Syria is its historically strategic ally and its gate to the Mediterranean, the warm waters, in addition to its economic interests in the region. For this reason, Russia engaged in the battle and considered it a decisive issue especially that the armed groups power in Syria is growing with Turkish support, not to mention the danger it might constitute in the Caucasus republics.
Russian Expert in Euro-Asian Russian Union Center for Strategic Researches Leonid Savin explained to Al-Manar website Moscow’s stand from the events in Syria: “After the events in Libya our leadership recognized that it was deceived. Our Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted clearly that we won’t let this deceit happen again, saying that “the belief of the Russian foreign policy, as well as the Russian political trends that belong to the region, in addition to the BRICS’ principles, all indicate that Russia is consistent on its stand and closes the door in front of every attempt to pass foreign intervention within the Security Council.”
Savin considers that “what links Russia to Syria is an old friendship since the ages of the Soviet Union. And we know the very details of the region.” Savin enhances his opinion by the naval military base in Tartous which he considers achieves a sort of stability in the region.” He excluded the intention to move it to another place. “We have been there since a very long time and we know the region very well,” he added.
“There is a viewpoint in Russia that considers it is a must to enhance its whereabouts not only in the global continents but also in friend countries with which traditional relationships are a way old,” Savin explained. “Let’s recall how we lost a radar station in Cuba, and the Lourdes base, that perhaps used to cover the whole northern half of the Earth with its radar scanning and observation. We also left the Kamran base in Vietnam, and those issues were suggested once again,” he added.
Savin asserted that “from this point, Russia must rework on widening its presence in from the Mediterranean towards Africa because this not only protects our national interests, but also protects the interests of other countries.”
China and Entering the Middle East
Perhaps it is the first time to see Beijing playing a major role in the Middle East that was represented in multiple vetoes in the UN Security Council against the sanctions or something similar against Syria.
The Chinese stand has its own standards, among which the most important are the economic interests, oil in particular. The fall of the State of Syria in the hands of the western axis and its Arab alley threatens energy resources especially under the American and European “hegemony” on the Gulf oil, and the Libyan lately, which Beijing considers a strategic threatening to its economic interests.
China, with close relationships with the regional countries, seeks confronting the American attempts in the Near East after Washington had declared its intent to prioritize Asia and the Pacific Ocean.
From here, China exerts efforts to save its place in the new regional equation by not allowing the fall of Syria in order to bring the other sides in the region into subjection.
Between Iran and Syria
Since the very beginning of the crisis, the Iranian leaders stressed the importance of making reforms in Syria and openness to all the components as well as the call for reaching solutions throughout dialogue. However, as security and military events went worse, and some western, regional, and Arab sides intervened in the crisis, Iran observed a plan to target Damascus and exclude it from the axis of resistance and the Palestinian cause, which is way far from democracy, reform and the list goes on.
What boosted the Iranian feeling of this plan was the continuous refusal of some Syrian opposition groups and other regional ones to hold a dialogue with the government to end up the crisis, as well as their refusal to give up arms “to topple the regime.”
Despite that, the Iranian government showed its openness to the countries in the region, calling for an initiative to stop bleeding in Syria and exclude foreign intervention, so that it welcomed and participated in the Quartet Contact Group that was held few months ago in Cairo.
The Iranian Vision for a Syrian Solution is summed up as follows:
• Stopping battles and military operations
• Dialogue between the regime and the opposition
• Saving the unity of land and the Syrian national body
• Holding presidential elections in which all sides participate (under a UN supervision), and abiding with what people decide
But the Iranian initiative was rejected as well as many other calls for dialogue. However, it was insisted on militating the conflict and unprecedented pumping of money and arms.
It was normal that Tehran rejected the attempts to target Syria for what it represents in the axis of resistance, so that it intensified it speech and warned that foreign military intervention in this country will ignite an inclusive war.
Perhaps the Iranian threat deterred the secret aggressive intentions against Syria, in particularly on the Zionist entity’s side, the number one beneficial from what is going on in Syria.
The Islamic Republic sees that escalating the crisis in Syria aims at:
• Destroying and exhausting Syria
• Weakening, draining, and rending the Syrian army
• Reversing the strategic options of the current Syrian leadership
• Breaking the axis of resistance that spreads from Iran to Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon
• Toppling Syria will lead to attacking Iraq, eventually Iran
• Cracking the region and involving it in a sectarian and doctrinal war that goes in favor of the Zionist entity to justify the alternative homeland project
For all of this, Iran stressed the necessity to face the conspiracy against Syria and the region. Perhaps the expression that the Secretary General of the Iranian National Council Said Jalili after he visited President Bashar Assad last summer explains the Iranian vision toward the ongoing events inside Syria.
“What is going on in Syria isn’t a local issue; rather it is a struggle between the axis of resistance and its enemies in the region and the whole world. The goal is to attack the resistant role of Damascus. Iran won’t allow any attempt to break this axis in which Syria is considered a main partner.”
Syria, Strategic Relationships
Syrian foreign policy was characterized by “moving eastward” since the era of late President Hafez Assad throughout creating close relationships with the former Soviet Union, China, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. This doesn’t mean that it was disconnected from the western world, especially Washington, despite the confusions that penetrated through these relationships, in particular towards the American dealing with the Palestinian cause and the occupied Arab lands.
Before the recent crisis, relationships between Washington and Damascus reached its worst because of the American occupation to Iraq and the list of demands presented by the former US Secretary of State Collin Powell to the Syrian leadership, atop of which was keeping away from the axis of resistance.
Syria… and the Outside
To highlight the Syrian foreign policy, the Deputy Speaker of the Syrian Parliament Khaled Al-Abboud says to Al-Manar website that “the strategic relationship between Washington and Damascus, if found, will weaken Syria. The political mind that managed this country in the past years produced a bunch of relationships that represent some important political equations to prevent the defeat of this country.”
He noted that “the close positive relationship between the Syrians and the Iranians highly contributed to strengthening those peoples. This eventually created a group of social, economic, and cultural equations which all contribute to strengthening this country.” Al-Abboud explains that “the group of strategic relationships Syria had established with its regional surrounding were long-term beneficial and increased its power.”
About the relationships with the other countries, Russia in particular, Al-Abboud says that “the relationship between Syria and Russia are based on the equation of how could Damascus save the Russian interests, eventually how would it save Moscow’s relationship with Syria on the level of protecting the sovereignty and dignity of the Syrians.” He also noted that “the regime in Syria exceeded the potential of working on protecting itself and protecting the state, which eventually created a sort of complication in the relationships with Russia, China, the BRICS countries and the global powers whose relationships with the United States are unstable.” “Those lively and close relationships with these countries protected first and foremost the Syrian state,” he added.
“The most important is that the Russian and Chinese stands weren’t as self-produced as it was based on the relationship with Syria. In other words, without Damascus’ resistance along the past two years, Russia wouldn’t have took this position, not to mention the resistant alliance, which strengthened Moscow and Beijing’s stands in the international organizations.”
It is clear for everybody that Syria did bet first and foremost on the “winning horse” that remained with it, and will remain. It also went far from the relationship with the United States because it soon fails its allies and tools. There are many evidences on that, starting from the Shah of Iran, and passing by Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and…