By Ahmad Azizi
By Ahmad Azizi
Morocco World News
New York, February 22, 2012
At the media stakeout following Sunday’s Security Council meeting on 4 February, in which the delegations of Russia and China cast the disgraceful double veto to block the draft resolution on the situation in Syria, the permanent representative of Morocco to the United Nations Mohamed Loulichki expressed regret for this outcome, especially since the climate of negotiations during in the period leading up to the vote, was in his words a “consensus climate”. He was then asked if this meant that the representatives of Russia had deceived the sponsors of the draft resolution, meaning that they sought to dilute the text as well as buy time while knowing all along that in the end they would not allow any resolution to pass. The answer of the Moroccan ambassador was diplomatic, but one could read from it that he concurred with this conclusion.
It is true that the Russians have in fact succeeded in buying time for the Syrian regime by introducing a Russian draft resolution which is a far cry from the reality of events in Syria and from any possibility of approval by other Security Council members, and then managed to buy more time by engaging in phony negotiations on the draft resolution put forward by Western delegations in consultation with Arab delegations to support the Arab League initiative for ending the crisis in Syria. They also succeeded in watering down the content of the draft resolution and inserting in it elements that could be considered an admission of some of the nonsense very often regurgitated by the Syrian government since the outbreak of protests, like inserting in the draft a sentence that refers to violence by “armed groups” targeting civilians and state institutions, a paragraph that notes the “reforms” of the Syrian regime, and a clause about preserving the sovereignty and unity of Syria as if though to reinforce the misconception of a Western-Arab plot against Syria that is often touted by the regime.
The Russians may indeed have thought that they succeeded in deceiving the Arab and Western diplomats, but the reality is that that the rulers of Moscow, and also the rulers of Beijing, have only managed to unwittingly deceive themselves. In fact, their actions did not serve their interests. This happened because of the lack of political forethought that is characteristic of the system of governance in those two countries.
While the Russians have taken a misstep by vetoing the Syrian people’s right to security, freedom and democracy, the Americans have jumped at that opportunity to further erode the Russian influence in the region. This could be discerned from the statement of United States ambassador Susan Rice during that Security Council meeting, which was described as a “scandal” by the French ambassador. Rice said “the courageous people of Syria can clearly see who on the Council supports their yearning for liberty and universal rights and who does not.” Then, immediately after Ambassador Rice left the hall, she stood before the cameras of the press and directly addressed the Syrian people to assure them that the United States stands fully and irrevocably with them. These statements, as well as Rice’s harsh words for the Russian and Chinese veto, which she described as “disgusting”, did not come from the heat of the moment, but reflect a carefully studied position by the U.S. and the West in general that aims to strengthen the bonds with future Syria. Undoubtedly, this attitude has a great effect in serving the interests of the Syrian people not only after the end of regime but also would help bring that end closer.
The factors that contributed to the intransigence of the Russians and Chinese regarding the Syrian issue in defiance of the international community are multifaceted: For beginners, there is the renewal of the dream of Great Russia which some are trying to resurrect under Putin’s rule, whose excessive borrowing of Stalinist ideas and approaches threatens to backfire turning Russia into a paper tiger instead. On the other side of the coin there are those who support the illusion called the collapse of the West, particularly the United States, as a world leader following the economic and financial crisis and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Parallel to this one finds that some continue to read too much into the growth and progress that China has achieved recently. The truth is that any progress achieved in China is due to its adopting Western ways. Moreover, after all the dust is settled, China remains lagging behind America and Europe by dozens of years of progress in all areas. Its only chances of catching up are contingent on its adoption of policies conducive to individual freedoms, democracy and an open economy.
If the governments of Russia and China have succeeded in anything, it is in contributing to the realization of the age-old U.S. objective of eliminating the Russian and Chinese foothold in the Middle East. In fact, Moscow’s and Beijing’s betting on a regime due to collapse by virtue of the inevitability of history amounts to betting on a losing horse. And if Putin has succeeded in anything, it is winning discontent by Arab peoples and governments, as well as staining the reputation of his country globally. In addition, with his public support of what has been overwhelmingly described as crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian authorities against the Syrian people, Putin has eliminated any hope of a strong relationship with future Syria for at least a decade, and has served the Middle East on a silver platter to the United States and the West.
It is clear now that in the new democracies in Arab countries emerging from revolutions, there is an overall trend towards closer ties with the West, while being more dedicated to national sovereignty and independence than the obsolete regimes of tyranny in those countries. There is no doubt that this trend will contribute to the consolidation of the nascent democracies in these countries and support their advancement.
The excuse often quoted by the Russians for their opposition to the adoption of a UN resolution condemning the Syrian government for its crimes against its people is that the adoption of such a resolution may become a pretext for foreign intervention and regime change. In that regard, they cite, and vow never to allow to happen again, the way NATO and its allies overstepped the limits of the mandate by UN Security Council Resolution 1973 on Libya and turned the air campaign for the protection of civilians into a military operation to change Qadhafi’s regime. This vow and stubborn attitude is due to the Russians’ realization that they have lost Libya in favor of the West and their reluctance to allow this to happen in the case of Syria. Little do the Russians and Chinese realize, nonetheless, that by taking this attitude they are only repeating the same exact mistake of betting on the dictators, when history has only shown that dictatorship is no a sustainable form of governance.
This historic error was also being committed repeatedly by successive U.S. administrations, which have lent support to any dictator that would offer a minimum level of acting according to the American agenda and observe American red lines, regardless of how much crimes he commits or how much his values contradict American values. Although the former U.S. President’s administration declared a general goal of supporting peoples’ aspirations for democracy and freedom, but their policies did not actually serve that goal. Other Western countries have been similarly supportive of dictatorships around the world. But Western governments, which are democratically elected and run, always have the interest of their people as an underlying goal for their policies, and therefore realize that the future of any country is inevitably in the hand of its people not individual dictators. That is one of the most important reasons why the U.S., and the West in general, have realigned their foreign policy, declaring support for popular uprisings against oppression, tyranny and repression, albeit after initial hesitation. It is the Arab spring that gets most credit for this awakening. Other factors include the agreement between the values of popular revolts with American values that are rooted in freedom and justice for all. They also include the renewed pragmatism of the United States in its relations with Islamic movements, now that its judgment is less clouded by September 11 and that it is becoming clear that the war on so-called Islamic terrorism will not succeed without a genuine partnership with the Muslim peoples.
It seems that the revived Cold War between the East and the West has come to the disadvantage of the Syrian people. It also seems that Russia’s decision to wield the veto card and try to blackmail the West has also come to the dismay of the Syrian people. But perhaps that move is after all good for the Arab Syrian revolution. It has pushed the countries that are pro-Syrian people to take more effective positions against the Syrian regime. And even if the Russian and Chinese moves have benefited the Syrian regime temporarily allowing it to stay in power for a little longer, they in the end will serve post-revolution Syria, which will be free from ties to countries that have long contributed to its failure and have been in the first place a contributing factor to the rise of the dictatorial regime that so ruthlessly ruled it for decades.
A physicist by training, Ahmad’s work experience has been with the United Nations and International Affairs. He has eight years under his belt as a political adviser in New York, over which he has acquired experience in a wide range of diplomatic and political affairs, most notably in connection with the work of the Security Council. His current research interest focuses on the “responsibility to protect” as an emerging global principle. But as a Syrian-American, he has been equally active in the Arab-American and American Muslim community in New York. Having recently become a father, Ahmad’s passion is to work towards a safe, secure and equitable world for this and future generations. He is a member of Morocco World News’ editorial board.
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