Syria: A crime against humanity
It is irony at its best, or utter hypocrisy in fact, to be critical of Russian meddling in Syria. Who has not been meddling in the Syrian conflict up until now? The United States, Britain, France, the European Union in general, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf emirates, Jordan, the two conflicting fronts in Lebanon (the Sunni bloc as well as Hezbollah), Israel, Turkey, Iran and Russia have all been active in the Syrian conflict the whole time.
Besides, it was Western meddling which triggered the so-called civil war after the so-called Arab Spring visited Syria in March 2011. It was the U.S. and Western powers in general who “encouraged” the armed opposition to take on the al-Assad regime. It was an open Western policy to remove the Syrian regime and to support all sorts of armed militias to achieve that troublesome policy. Finally, it was Western pressure which forced Turkey to take an active part in the conflict, form the Free Syrian Army and turn a blind eye to the transfer of foreign jihadists to Syria against the regime. It is true that the Turkish government then refused to comply with the shift of Western policy and to restrain its support of Islamist militias. Nevertheless, it started as a joint effort that was presented as liberating Syria from the al-Assad dictatorship.
In fact, “liberation theology” in the name of bringing democracy worked and resulted with a tragedy in similar ways elsewhere, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, yet this policy was expected to bring about a different result in Syria. As if U.S. intervention in Iraq did not teach us that such a policy was a grave miscalculation, to say nothing about the problem of legitimacy concerning “liberal interventionalism,” it was repeated in Syria. It took Western powers some time to recognize the terrible consequences of dismantling state apparatuses, which paved the way for the rise of militia powers, chaos and human tragedies. That is why I think Western policy concerning Syria can be considered a crime, rather than a simple policy failure.
Now, Russia is taking advantage of the present situation in order to strengthen its power in the Middle Eastern game. In fact, it was another miscalculation to underestimate Russia’s interests in Syria as in the cases of Ukraine and Georgia. That is why I have called Syria the “Ukraine of the Middle East” from the beginning of the conflict. Russia lost its superpower status and needed to restrain its foreign policy after the fall of the Soviet regime, but it is no longer the Yeltsin era. Besides, just as the encirclement of Russia reached its limits in Ukraine and Georgia, Syria was the limit in the Middle East. In short, now the negotiations among the powers who have stakes in Syria will determine the future of Syria and negotiations are better than proxy wars. That is why those who are critical of Russian meddling, like those who have been critical of Iran’s role, are of no help to the success of negotiations.
As for Turkey’s role, Turkey is the loser of the game and deserves to be so, since our country contributed to the Syrian tragedy, by committing itself to the removal of al-Assad regime by all means. In fact, Turkey not only lost the game and its face but also lost its way. That is why it is time to face the realities and revise its Syrian policy rather than insist on delusion after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Russia. Ultimately, Turkey is running the risk of ending up being accused as the sole scapegoat for Syria’s tragedy. Despite all this, it is not only Turkey’s misled policies but the dismantling of Syria that deserves to be viewed as a collective crime.