05 Feb 2012, 18:13
Everybody is really mad at Russia for doing this right now, but I've noticed that nobody ever cared to tell us just why Russia vetoed this. That's really weird. Does anybody know what the official explanation is?
05 Feb 2012, 18:26
I think all official statements have just been the usual "Syria needs more time, there needs to be dialogue between the rebels and the government to construct a smooth transition to a democratic Syria, blah blah blah..." Reading between the lines, I would say that Russia is concerned that the rebels are far too entrenched in the hands of the US and would thus establish another US ally in the Middle East. Traditionally Russia has supported the Assad government and may still believe it can surviving this insurrection. I don't think Russia has particulalry good ties with the rebels as shown by the rebels refusal to allow the Russians to act as a broker between them and the Assad government. There is also the fact that the Assad regime is an ally of Iran. If its fall weakens Iran to the extent that it too collapses and sees regime change then it could also result in a pro-Western government in the Middle East.
05 Feb 2012, 18:53
Exactly what gRed said. Russia has no interest in seeing the entire Middle East transformed into a series of pro-Western Islamist regimes. Some fear that this revolutionary wave will spread to the southern republics of the former Soviet Union, as well. Much of the official rhetoric of the state media in Russia about Syria notes that foreign intelligence services are thoroughly involved in fomenting the revolution. They point to the fact that from virtually the beginning, police and army casualties have been reported alongside protester casualties. This means that a) the protesters are not peaceful and unarmed and b) potentially that there are snipers firing at both sides attempting to further destabilize the regime. The media also cites Syrian government footage and reports of Western and Israeli weapons found in the hands of the rebels. These things are conspicuously absent from Western reporting on the subject, and so everyone is mad at Russia 'for propping up a dictator'. It's funny how in international affairs, this is a sign of a full circle turn. Once again the US is allied with radical Islam against nationalism and progressivism in the Middle East, and once again everyone calls Russia the undemocratic bad guy. It's too bad the country had to lose so much in the last 20 years before understanding that there was no place for the country in the 'common European home', and that friendship with the United States could last only as long as Russia gave up its positions internationally.
05 Feb 2012, 19:57
According to Juan COle, "Russia opposes any UN resolution setting the stage for foreign intervention or “regime change.” Syria was a client state of the old Soviet Union, and is still valued as a client by Russian PM Vladimir Putin, who hopes to return to the presidency next month. Putin wants to look strong by supporting an ally against the West. Moreover, Russia sells military equipment to Syria, and has a naval base on the Mediterranean in that country. It is Russia’s only Mediterannean base, and Putin doesn’t want to lose it. Further, Russia and China had their fingers burned by not opposing the resolution on Libya last year this time, which called for a no-fly zone but which was used by NATO and elements of the Arab League to justify regime change. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, dubbed the BRICS bloc, oppose the idea of American and Western intervention in the domestic affairs of other countries (lest that principle give the West an opening to intervene in the BRICS!)."
06 Feb 2012, 01:07
I must say this raises a very interesting question regarding Syria. I mean, the prospect of a democratic movement within the country should be something to be suported, right? The thing is, Western imperialism will inevitably support this movement and attempt to open up the potential labour markets Syria has to offer after any revolution that may occur. What would be preferable: political democracy but economic imperialism or political dictatorship with economic safeguarding?
06 Feb 2012, 15:29
They might still do that.
As for the resolution, I think it was considered an opportunity to pave the way for further foreign intervention. Something that is plainly against the interests of China and Russia. Last year, they abstained from voting for or against the resolution that allowed for the "no-fly zone" over Libya, and look what happened. They're not going to let that happen a second time with a country like Syria, especially considering how devastating a power vacuum in that country would be to the stability in the rest of the region. It would effectively mean that the US, EU, Israel and Turkey can enforce regime change right on Iran's doorstep (and by extension, Russia's and China's doorstep) unopposed.
What I don't entirely understand is how either side of the international discussion is going to help matters along much. It appears as though competition between the US and allies on one hand, and Russia and China on the other, is going to increase the prospect of a prolonged and bloody civil war. Any solution seems to be far off.
06 Feb 2012, 15:47
Well, Russia offered her good offices. Started invited both parties to a conference in Moscow. Assad accepted, but I don't know if the "rebels" did.
That's the most anyone has done to stop the conflict.
06 Feb 2012, 22:37
If Syria were to fall then that would complicate the situation with Iran, and Sergei Lavrov has said this explicitly that all of this turmoil is going to spread into Russia and they do not want that. I get the impression from reading RT, Novosti, and Pravda that many in Russia were not impressed with the decision to not pull the veto on Libya, and the Russian government felt some pressure at home. Iran was indifferent on the whole Libya scenario as far as I can tell, but Syria is much more important geopolitically and in avoiding a war with Iran coming to a settlement in Syria is key.
Lets not forget what Gen. Wesley Clark laid out a few years back in 2007 of the countries the US planned to invade, and its all played out just that way. Interestingly, they never invaded Sudan, but with the actions they did take against the country, bombing it, dividing it, funding militias, and of course the wonderful PR campaign stamped with Clooney's face on it, they as well have. They are ready to jump into Syria at a moment's notice. When push comes to shove, and the UN won't back Obama and Israel's plan to intervene in Syria, it will be interesting to see how they react. Bush of course had no qualms on circumventing the UN, but will Obama be able to pull it off? Russia is banking on it apparently, and hopefully a double veto can buy them time at the very least.
But, we can be somewhat optimistic that whatever America does plan to do in Syria or Iran it will really only be tenuous. The provisional governments in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are hanging on by threads, and I really don't see a bright future for South Sudan. For this I find the insight of Michael Scheuer quite compelling here. Being a former CIA operative his opinion is that America no longer is winning wars, and this is true, but he neglects to mention America's declining power vis-a-vis BRIC countries and other adversaries. In any event, I think this whole double veto is just delaying the inevitable, which is going to be some sort of intensification of military action.