Thursday 15 November, 2012
Are Russian, China and Iran Losing Out to the Empire?
Hameed Abdul Karim
The crisis in Syria has put Russia, China and Iran at loggerheads with the larger Arab population.
What the Syrians wanted was for Assad to relinquish his power and transfer it to the people as early peaceful protests indicated. For months the Syrians protested peacefully but when Bashar Assad retaliated with violence, the protesters took to arms.
Perhaps President Bashar Asad and his coterie of power hungry despots thought they could get away with a slaughter similar to the one the late Hafez Asad inflicted on Hama by killing over ten thousand ‘rebels’. But this time, it seems, they have got it wrong. The point of time when Hafez Assad put down an uprising was very different to the present day Arab world.
Today the Arab population is very different. Youth have taken their destinies in their own hands and despite the negative images presented about the happenings in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia there is no way the new governments in these countries are going to go back to the bad old ways of their predecessors. Revolutions don’t end with elections of a new set of politicians. Rather they are processes that take time to grow.
Russia, Iran and China could have played a positive role in Syria’s revolution instead of blindly siding with Bashar Assad on account of their old friendship. But they didn’t see the writing on the wall and they continue ignore the warnings even at this point of time when more than 40,000 people on both sides of the conflict have perished not to mention the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. Sure they can still keep Bashar Asad in office with their vetoes, but how is this going to help them in the long run?
Russia has a naval base in Syria; Iran has ‘long historical relations’ and China probably has an eye on long time trade and influence. All these legitimate interests could have been protected if only they had given a fair hearing to the rebels. Their neglect of the just demands of the rebels has provided a golden opportunity for the U.S. to play a larger than life role in post conflict Syria. Iran has another reason or pretext to protect Bashar Assad and that’s the axis of resistance to Israel. The axis includes Hezbollah.
There was no reason to believe that this axis would come to an end with the departure of Assad. It was not like the as if the ‘rebels’ were fighting to open an Israeli embassy in Damascus. What they wanted was to get rid of a dictator, put in place a people’s government and spend the rest of their lives in freedom and in dignity. Their revolution was in no way different to the Iranian one that overthrew the Shah and brought in a government based on people’s power. Come to think of it, the Syrian revolution is in no way different to the Russian and Chinese revolutions either. Why would Russia, China and Iran then support a regime that the people see as oppressive?
The violence or the ‘War within Syria’ as Al-Jazeera would have it, has polarised the non-Western media. Iran’s Press TV and Russia’s RT clearly are on Bashar Assad’s side. Al Jazeera, despite criticism from Russian and Iranian sources, has maintained its stance which can be seen as pro-people, as was evident in the Egyptian, Libyan and Tunisian revolts. Still it was Al-Jazeera that was the first to report atrocities committed by the rebels. RT is clearly against what it sees as any Islamist narrative of the Arab Spring, while Press TV is not sure of where it wants to hedge its bets. But when it comes to Syria, Press TV sees ‘Wahabis’ or ‘Al-Qaeda’ or the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ or ‘foreign fighters’ wanting to grab power and turn Syrian into another Iraq or Afghanistan, not realising that Arabs don’t see fellow Arabs as foreigners. The concept of nation states has not seeped into the Arab mindset and never will. The Arabs see the borders that divide their peoples as a Western invention and would love to go back to the time when they could travel freely without passports and travel documents.
The pro-Assad regime bias in Press TV and RT becomes all too evident when you notice that neither of these networks ever mentions the regular air strikes that the Syrian government makes on its people and territory. What RT and Press TV don’t realise is that they are losing out in credibility and worse still are comforting the likes of Hilary Clinton who not many months ago was alarmed over the influence of new non- Western TV networks as opposed to established pro West media. ‘We are losing the media war’, she had blurted out in a rare public slip. If RT and Press TV were to lose their new found clout there will be none happier than the guys who run the empire.
Paving the way for the Empire
What Russia, China and Iran don’t realise is that siding with oppressive regimes is giving the U.S. Empire and its satellite states like Canada and the UK undeserving opportunities to be on the ‘right side of history’ by supporting the uprising in Syria and possibly elsewhere. By pretending to be on the people’s side the empire makes itself wanted by the people.
The Russian, Chinese and Iranian policy of automatically supporting any government or people that they deem anti-American is diminishing their influence in world politics. It’s about time they re-assess their Syrian policy and do what would be acceptable by the Syrian people. America is unabashedly on the side of the Syrian rebels, but still maintains enough influence to rein in the rebels as is happening in Doha as we speak. The empire is demanding that changes be made in the Syrian National Council, because it feels its interests might not be served if the rebels were to take power. Russian, Iran and China must take responsibility for driving the Syrian rebels into the open arms of the empire.