The massacres and the Baath dictatorship going on for decades have turned into a few minor details in the face of “the geopolitical” discussions. Just for this reason, what has been lived in Syrian — geopolitical calculations disguised by morals, geostrategic plans disguised by principles — has turned into a trial for the entire region at the cost of the Syrian people.
I used similar sentences in the opening speech of a conference in the beginning of April, which was attended by participants from Russia
and Iran. The speaker from Russia, who later wrote an evaluation piece titled “The Importance of Being Russia,” seems to believe that Russia
was the inspiration behind these sentences.
This attitude, which bears Russia’s approach to the Syrian crisis out, deserves some thought. First of all, Russia’s approach toward Syria takes the crisis as a fringe detail. From Russia’s perspective the importance of the Syrian crisis is neither what is experienced in Syria nor the wave of instability in the region triggered by the Arab uprisings.
Russia seems to believe it is going through a proxy war with the West over Syria at no cost to itself. Russia
thinks that its “importance” is appreciated because of this crisis and therefore has based all its geopolitical calculations on the premise of this “importance” becoming more appreciated. This strategy and psychology are clearly evident in the lines of the editor of journal Russia
in Global Affairs:
“Moscow is not trying to preserve its Syrian contracts but to reaffirm its status in international affairs. By resisting powerful psychological and diplomatic pressure, Russia
has shown that although it has lost ground in the Middle East (Syria is its last close partner in the region), it is still a power whose opinion cannot be disregarded. Russian
diplomats have clearly said that it will not allow intervention to be legalized through the U.N. Security Council ... Kofi Annan’s plan and the U.N. Security Council’s statement in its support were mostly brought about by Russia’s firm stance ... But Russia’s possibilities are not unlimited; it can hardly achieve much more.”
Russia’s recent approach indicates that it evaluates the Syrian crisis not on the basis of the year 2012 but on the basis of the 1970s and ‘80s. It exploits all the privileges afforded to Russia
by the skewed United Nations orders built in post-World War II conditions. And as such, in the lines of the same author, Russia’s position turns into a bargaining chip rather than strategy.
“Russia must decide what it will do if violence in Syria erupts with fresh force. Supporting the Syrian government may be logical but there is a limit, after which Russia
should think about selling its critical vote in the Security Council to the highest bidder since the Syrian opposition and their allies put so much stock in it.”
This attitude, which roughly summarizes the depth of Russia’s geopolitical approach to Syria can only be explained by one thing: Russia
is withdrawing from the Middle East by getting involved in the Syrian crisis in a historical display of simultaneous crisis (management?). In other words, Russia’s future in the Middle East fares no better than the al-Assad regime in which Russia
had been investing.