Efforts to stop Syria’s Bashar Assad from slaughtering his people failed again
Saturday because two countries always help a beleaguered dictator: Russia and
“The [United Nations] Security Council voted 13 to 2 in favor of a
resolution backing an Arab League peace plan for Syria, but the measure was
blocked by Russia and China, which opposed what they saw as a potential
violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” reported The New York Times.
comes to helping tyrants and terrorists, Russia and China always say they just
protect sovereignty and independence. That claim is a bit thin when one sees how
China behaves in Tibet, erasing its independence, and how Russia strangles
Ukraine and Georgia, especially a 2008 war in Georgia to support Georgian
separatists. But when it comes to Syria, Russia and China tell the world: “hands
off!” About 7,000 Syrians have been killed in ten months of fighting, according
to members of the Syrian opposition. Dissidents first tried to protest
peacefully against Assad’s policies beginning ten months ago, but Bashar, like
his father Hafez, responded with tanks and artillery.
He got diplomatic
“supporting fire” and military aid from Russia.
Led by Vladimir Putin,
the ex-KGB official, Russia is again using its UNSC veto to block diplomatic or
financial sanctions against the Syrian regime.
Russia did the same thing
with attempts to stop bloodbaths in southern Sudan (where hundreds of thousands
were murdered by the Janjaweed militia) and Iran’s brutal repression of its own
dissidents (where elections were rigged and thousands were killed). Russia and
China feel controlling strategic resources in the Gulf and Africa trumps lives,
and keeping America and Israel off-balance is worth a little blood.
bitterly disappoints US President Barack Obama who hoped Putin and his puppet
president Dimitri Medvedev were ready for a historic “reset” of relations
between Russia and the US, and between Russia and the world. But the Russians
did not buy Obama’s message of “hope and change.”
Putin’s Russia, like
the Russia of Leonid Brezhnev, still puts Russian strategic control ahead of
human rights. It wants to hold port facilities in Syria at Tartus, on the
Mediterranean, where the Russian fleet anchored in January. It wants to guard
financial interests in Syria, including millions in arms, some not yet paid
If the bloody Assad regime disappears, Russian military and
financial interests will be hurt. Collapse of the Assad regime would also mean
the collapse of the power of the Allawite minority (about 12 percent of the
population). Russia, like Iran, wants to stop this. Syria’s Allawite regime,
Russia and Iran are invested in each other.
Iran’s late leader Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini recognized the secretive Allawite sect as a legitimate part of
Shi’a Islam, but many Muslims consider the Allawites to be a renegade sect. From
its standpoint, Iran needs an Allawite-led Syria to continue its penetration of
Lebanon and its strategic reach to the Mediterranean.
The fact that Hamas
terror leaders are beginning to flee Damascus worries Moscow and the ayatollahs
in Tehran, who have used Syria as a base to spread influence inside the
Palestinian community – both in Hamas and Fatah. Losing that base would be
harmful, opening a path for others, like Islamist Turkey, to replace
The emergence of a Sunni-led regime in Syria will probably not lead
to democracy overnight, but it would certainly hurt the Iran-Syria-Russia- North
Korea axis that was represented by the nuclear reactor that the “peace-loving”
Bashar Assad tried to install in his country in 2007 – a reactor that Israel
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dramatically
embraced the “reset” in Russian thinking in a big ceremony in March 2009 where
she presented Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a huge computer
button marked “RESET.” Sadly, US officials got it all wrong, even the
Instead of “perezagruzka,” Russian for “reset,” Obama-Clinton
and Co. used “peregruzka,” or “overload.”
laughed at the error at the time, but it seems that the Obama administration
really does suffer from conceptual “overload” and that a lot more than a
computer button was lost in translation.
So the Russians, with the help
of the Chinese, keep protecting Syria’s Assad, keep guarding the Iranian nuclear
bomb program, and proving that they are not really interested in world peace
but, rather, in pieces of the world. Actually, that is not surprising, because
in Russian, “mir” can mean “peace” or “world.” So how do we know what they mean?
We must watch what they do, and Russian officials insist they will continue
selling strategic equipment to Syria and Iran.
“Russia is committed to
international rules on exporting arms and it doesn’t violate any international
obligations,” asserted Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, in a
press conference in Moscow on February 2.
Maybe it was all a translation
error, and the Obama-Clinton vision of “hope and change” became the
Putin-Medvedev view of “hype and chaos.”Dr. Michael Widlanski is the
Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat, to be
published in March by Threshold/Simon and Schuster.