In contrast to Libya, Syria became the scene of a revolt that almost immediately went off script: the majority of Syria’s population remain the government’s loyalists, and the Syrian army never disintegrated into warring factions. According to Western estimates, the rebel forces in Syria combined with the relatively small bunch of army defectors are outnumbered by at least a factor of four by the regular army which is also much better armed.
The attacks launched by guerrillas on the regions where most of the residents are traditionally hostile to B. Assad and the attempts to cause the people to rebel are at the moment being successfully suppressed, while the opposition’s street marches typically run into response rallies staged by the supporters of the legitimate authority.
Importantly, Russia and China strongly hold their own in the UN and block whatever Security Council resolutions that might be read as authorizing an intervention against Syria. As a result, the key objective behind the revolt in the country — to unleash a full-blown civil war in Syria — at the moment stays out of reach for those who orchestrated the unrest.
The authors of the Syrian revolt scenario must be aware that the country is inching towards a pivotal point — debates over its new constitution are due to open in just one week. Considering that the process will likely cool tensions and promote dialog between the current regime and its critics, drastic steps aimed at derailing the reform in Syria can be expected to follow within days.
As a side-effect, the ongoing Syrian polarization highlighted the existing perceptions of Russia, the country which had contributed enormously to the formation of the present-day Syria. The late Soviet Union invariably backed Syria’s sovereignty and assisted it in achieving genuine statehood, and most Syrians continue to see Moscow as a friend they can rely on.
It is clear in the context that outrage at Russia must be rising among Syria’s foes. For those, Russia is an enemy they feel they need to fight against, not shying away from distinctly terrorist methods. The camp, it must be noted, is an extremely heterogeneous alliance one could hardly imagine under less pressing circumstances. It counts in its ranks the leaders of the world’s top-democratic Empire, NATO warmongers, professional liars from Brussels offices, hateful Syrian emigrants, and — the last but not the least — the omnipresent Muslim extremists of all brands, from theorists preoccupied with the clash of civilizations to practitioners convinced that mass murder is the best argument ever. The Russian-Chinese veto in the UN Security Council evidently triggered a round of hyperactivity in the whole crew.
The first furious outcry came from Washington as US Secretary of State H. Clinton said that Russia and China would eventually be held responsible by the people of Syria for prolonging their sufferings. With emotions running high, the US Administration went on to uphold the idea of supplying arms to the Syrian rebels, thus hoping to alleviate Syrians’ sufferings.
It is an unwritten rule that selling emotions as arguments is Washington’s privilege. US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice made full use of it when she told CNN that “the United States is disgusted that a couple of members of this Council continue to prevent us from fulfilling our sole purpose”.
Guns of smaller caliber followed the lead momentarily. Fox News, for example, featured a video of people with banners saying, in a reference to the Russian-Chinese veto in the UN Security Council, that Russia was killing their children. Whoever the people were, chances are part of the audience seriously concluded that Russian and Chinese were somehow butchering defenseless kids in Syria.
Now, again, let us turn to the heavyweights — White House press secretary Jay Carney stated that Iran’s militancy, repressions in Syria, and Russia’s support for both countries altogether created a complex situation whereby the three states act as “a counsel of the wicked”. Former US Defense Secretary W. Gohen voiced nearly the same idea when he said that the Russia-Syria-Iran axis was nothing new and that Russia had played the game for quite some time and would continue doing so. Moscow should almost start feeling neglected if some day invectives like the above suddenly vanish from the agenda. In any case, that is the price Russia has to pay for pursuing an independent policy.
The runaway Syrian opposition readily picked up as Paris-based Syrian oppositional Transitional National Council head Burhan Ghalioun bluntly blamed on Russia and China the deaths and devastations in Syria. Even that, however, sounds moderate compared to the statement spelled out by Syrian dissenter Saadallah Jibri: «Will we suffice with condemnations against Russia or will the brave Syrian people and its Arab peers take to the streets and stage protests in front of the Russian and Chinese embassies in every capital of the world? Personally, I will go even further and demand that Russians take to the streets to protest against Putin’s criminal rule and the madness of supporting Assad’s regime. Would that be enough? It would be enough if the disgusting hostility of Russia to the Syrian Arab people comes to an end. If that does not happen, we should take revenge, we should kidnap and kill every Russian and every Chinese in Syria».
Chairman of an international Muslim theology council Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a man who avoids going public about has association with the Muslim Brotherhood but has a reputation of the group’s religious authority, maintains essentially the same. In an interview to Al Jazeera, he called «all Arabs, all Muslims, and honest people» to struggle against the Syrian authorities and those who back them. Al-Qaradawi suggested as an instrument of the struggle a boycott of Russian ad Chinese products on the grounds that the money used to pay for them is converted into weapons killing Syrians.
The eternal law of war is that it divides people into allies and enemies. Russia clearly is not on the side of terrorists and their patrons, and therefore must face the challenge. The rebels’ threats have to be taken seriously as there is no doubt that for them killing Russians outside of Russia would not be below the acceptable. Yet, the situation has another dimension that would likely become impossible to ignore in the nearest future.
From a wider perspective, the whole range of developments evokes a sense of deja vu. In an epoch that has not completely sunk into oblivion, the US and British intelligence agencies put together the Taliban movement which was supposed to counter the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The Jikhadists were given arms, heavily funded, and allowed to act without restraint, downright terrorism being among admissible options.
Eventually Al Qaeda, known to be a product of Anglo-Saxon policies, established itself as a monster capable of taking thousands of lives, including those of US citizens. Such is the longer storyline behind the drama of September 11.
What is the likely result of encouraging Syrian rebels to target Russians and Chinese in terrorist strikes? In a quest for global publicity, sooner or later, the new terrorists will be indiscriminately hunting US and British citizens along with Russians. As in the case of Afghanistan, the West’s own policies will boomerang, and then the US may see some sort of September 12 as a replay of September 11.