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Russian resolution on Syria: it’s all a game of chess and dominoes

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Russia presented a new, ‘beefed-up’ draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council on the violence exercised by the Syrian regime. France promptly rejected it, claiming the text was too weak. Ironic, considering it was only two months ago that Russia, along with China, vetoed an equally weak, draft resolution that only contained a threat of sanction.

Has Russia suddenly done a U-turn? Not quite. After it initially opposed the no-fly zone over Libya, Russia (and other countries) was viewed with much suspicion by Western leaders. Now that the Arab league (useless as they are) have turned up the notch with their condemnations of Bashar al-Assad, Russia has realised that now is the time to be clever.

The draft resolution is a pragmatic step by a country that is becoming more and more isolated. Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, said: “Russia is changing its position because to completely defend the Syrian regime is impossible given that everyone is against it, including practically all the Arab nations”.

Essentially, it’s all politics. “Americans play Monopoly, Russians chess,” stated Spengler in Asia Times. As Eric Walberg wrote in the Palestine Chronicle, “At times, it is wise to sit back and wait for the straw that breaks the ogre’s (excuse me, camel’s) back. A fool’s mate comes about when your opponent is bankrupt, and it certainly looks like this is how the current game is shaping up”.

The fall of the government in Syria will not be confined to one country, as in Libya. Syria has many key allies, aside from Russia, and is strategically situated. It will throw the whole Middle East into chaos. Bring Syria down and the rest of the dominoes follow suit. In that sense, al-Assad was correct when he said attacking Syria would cause an ‘earthquake‘.

Russia is hardly the moral nation in all of this. They say if you want to find the truth, you need to ‘follow the money’. The Moscow Times reported that Russia’s investment in Syrian infrastructure, energy and tourism amounted to $19.4bn in 2009. Civilian lives and death tolls are hardly their number one priority.

Russian middle eastern experts compare Syria to Russia’s province of Dagestan in the North Caucasus. David Hearst, writing for the Guardian, believes whatever happens in Syria would impact on Dagestan, where journalist Gadzhimurat Kamalov, who routinely invetigated government corruption, was shot dead outside his newspaper’s office.

It is difficult to predict the future of Syria and Russia. Protests, and killings, have been ongoing for almost a year. The African Arab dictators are long gone. But with Syria, as well as Yemen and Bahrain (under reported in the media), the situation is different. And the solution is not as simple or as easy to resolve.

Written by Iram Ramzan

January 12, 2012 at 10:05 pm

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