Syria: Russia rises to the world stage again

By Ameen Izzadeen
Big, brutal and clumsy: This was how the West described the Russian bear and used the imagery to heap scorn on the Soviet Union during the Cold War period. In many a Hollywood movie, Russians were portrayed as vodka-drinking bulky villains who were outsmarted and defeated by the American hero. Even in early 20th century political cartoons, Russia symbolised the bear, and Britain, the superpower of that era, the lion.
Hollywood’s fear mongering through the portrayal of political villains — Russians during the Cold War period and the Islamists now – sustains the financial and political agendas of capitalists and their submissive ruling elite and helps to divert the attention of the American people from crucial economic and social justice issues.
Although the Cold War ended two decades ago and the description of Russia as a big, brutal and clumsy bear still continues in Hollywood and in the Western media, the Russians love their bear. They even made teddy bear ‘Misha’ as the mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Derided as a sick bear in the pos-cold War period and misled time and again in recent years by the United States, it appears that Russia has decided to bare its bear power. Why shouldn’t it? After all it is no longer a wounded bear. The US misled Russia into supporting the UN resolutions on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to America’s dirty war in Iraq.
Again, in 2011, the US and the West tricked Russia and bought its silence when the resolution on the Libyan civil war was put to the vote at the United Nations Security Council. Russia was told that the resolution was only to impose a no-fly zone. But after the resolution was passed, the US and the West deliberately misinterpreted its provisions and unleashed their brutal air power on Libya, changing the course of the civil war in favour of the anti-government rebels. When the West’s illegal intervention led to the killing of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi and a regime change in Tripoli, Russia was furious.
As the turn of events in the Syrian crisis shows, Russia has determined not to be a bystander and leave the Americans to decide the world’s fate. The message from Moscow is that it will protect Syria even if it threatens to trigger a world war. During last week’s G20 meeting, Russia’s powerful president Vladimir Putin took on US President Barack Obama who is apparently acting according to a script written by Israel and Saudi Arabia – two countries which would benefit from a regime change in Damascus.
In the eyeball-to-eyeball game, Obama blinked and lost. Now he has agreed to work on Russia’s proposal to solve the immediate issue — Syria’s chemical weapons.
President Putin wrote a hard-hitting op-ed article in the New York Times on Wednesday, a day before his Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov met US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva to discuss the Russian proposals.
Slamming US foreign policy, Putin said millions of people saw the US not as a model of democracy but as a country relying on brute force.
Putin should have said “billions of people” because it was only last week, G20 leaders from Russia, China, India, Indonesia and Brazil — countries that represent more than half the world’s population — rejected the US plan to attack Syria.
In his op-ed article, Putin also warned that the United Nations could suffer the same fate as its precursor, the League of Nations, if “influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorisation”.
“The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the Pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders,” he said in the article seen as a direct plea to the American people.
Putin said: “A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilise the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”
Reiterating that the August 21 gas attack was probably carried out by opposition forces “to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, Putin said, “It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it.”
Putin’s unyielding position and his resolve to prevent a US attack on Syria are reminiscent of the good old Cold War days when a global balance of power acted as a check against superpower excesses.
When the Cold War ended, many people thought the sole superpower — the US — would act with responsibility. But much to their disappointment, the US abused its sheer military power to dominate the world and plunder other countries’ resources while subverting international law and the UN system.
It is in this context that the rise of Russia under Putin is seen as a welcome development in international relations. Russia and China should act as a responsible counterforce to rein in the US.
The manner in which Russia and China opposed plans by the US and its allies to attack Syria shows their determination not to bow to pressure tactics — as has often been the case when the US wants to punish Iran.
In the case of Syria, the pressure on Russia came also from an unexpected quarter, Saudi Arabia. Recent events show the geostrategic goals of Saudi Arabia complement those of Israel, so much so that some analysts wonder whether there exists secret cooperation between the Zionist state and Saudi Arabia, the so-called custodian of Islam’s holiest mosques.
An angry Putin, according to reports, warned Saudi Arabia that if Riyadh became too adventurous, Russia would not hesitate to bomb Saudi Arabia. The report of his threat to bomb Saudi Arabia was published on many websites and in newspapers and it came after a four-hour meeting between Putin and Saudi Arabia’s pro-US intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan at Dacha, near Moscow. The report has not been denied by either Russia or Saudi Arabia.
The London Telegraph described the Putin-Bandar meeting as stormy, replete with warnings of a “dramatic turn” in Syria. It said Putin was unmoved by the Saudi warning. “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,” Putin said, referring to footage showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a dead Syrian soldier.
Bandar had the audacity – which probably stems from US commitment to protect Saudi Arabia despite its poor human rights record — to warn Putin that Saudi Arabia could interfere in Chechnya where Putin ruthlessly crushed a separatist rebellion and brought about a semblance of stability.
According to the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, Bandar first tried to offer some inducements such as moves aimed at artificially shooting up the world oil prices — so that Russia also could benefit as a chief exporter — and allowing Russia to maintain its naval base in Syria even after President Bashar al-Assad was overthrown. When these inducements failed to change Putin’s position, Bandar hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there was no accord. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Bandar allegedly said, reminding Putin that a quite a number of Chechen rebels have joined the so-called Jihad against Assad in Syria.
Putin, being a KGB spymaster himself, is not unaware of the Saudi spy chief’s schemes and knows how to counter Saudi threats. Besides, he is much more capable than Bandar. After all, Russia owes much of its economic recovery to Putin. Once the economy was put on a sound footing, Putin made his ambitions known. He wanted to make Russia a superpower again — on an equal footing with the United States.
In addition to having a stockpile of more than 4,600 active nuclear warheads, Russia is also the world’s largest conventional power. Under Putin, Russia has made significant breakthroughs in weapons development. Today it has state-of-the art fighter jets that even surprise US military experts. Its fifth generation T-50 fighter jets with the futuristic characteristics of stealth, sustained supersonic cruise, and integrated weapons have effectively eliminated the United States’ edge in the sky.
In comparison to the United States’ US$ 700 billion annual defence budget, Russia spends around US$ 63 billion on defence. That Russia has achieved what the US has achieved in weapons technology with a defence budget that is one tenth that of the US is indeed an achievement. Such advanced military technology vouch for Putin’s determination not to make the same mistake the Soviet Union had made. The communist giant during the cold war era spent blindly on defence to keep up with the US — a move that paved the way for its economic decline and its disintegration in 1991. Putin wants to make Russia not only militarily strong but economically too.
Today, Russia is the world’s number two oil exporter. It supplies 34 per cent of Europe’s natural gas needs. While the US has a debt to GDP ratio of 101 per cent, Russia’s ratio is about 8 per cent. While the US runs into a trade deficit of more than half a trillion dollars, Russia records a large trade surplus.
As the Syrian crisis, messed up by the Americans, the Israelis and the Saudis, perpetuate the unimaginable scale of human suffering, the world should support the Russian proposal not only on the chemical weapons issue but also on moves to find a solution to the problem. With four million internally displaced people and two million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, we cannot allow countries with vested interests to play politics with the lives of the people.
(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)

About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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1 Response to Syria: Russia rises to the world stage again

  1. robert333 says:

    ” LaRouche has joined others in demanding that the Obama Administration immediately release the suppressed 28 pages from the 2002 Joint Congressional Inquiry report, that spelled out the Saudi monarchy’s direct hand in those 9/11 attacks. Those 28 pages provide details of how then-Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, laundered money through the Bank of England and Riggs National Bank into the hands of Saudi intelligence officers who were providing logistical support and funds to at least two of the leading 9/11 hijackers. ”
    ” Former Goldman executives who moved on to government positions include: Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson who served as United States Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively; Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank; Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada 2008–13 and Governor of the Bank of England from July 2013. ”
    ” BlackRock says it owns about 6.2% of Goldman and 5.4% of Morgan Stanley ”
    ” Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. and Barclays PLC own economic interests in BlackRock approximating 34.1%, 24.6% and 19.9%, respectively, with the remainder owned by institutional and individual investors, as well as BlackRock employees.”
    Bank of America is connected with the person of Warren Buffet a notorious friend of Lord JACOB ROTHSCHILD.
    Lord JACOB ROTHSCHILD “Hosted the European Economic Round Table conference in 2002 at Waddesdon Manor, attended by such figures as James Wolfensohn, Nicky Oppenheimer, Warren Buffet, and Arnold Schwarzenegger ”
    Bank Of America and Merrill Lynch are also related with the Edmond De Rothschild, owned by BENJAMIN DE ROTHSCHILD, through the persons of Gerald Levy, Matthieu Walterspiler, Barbara Colombo, Beate Bakker, etc…
    Warren Buffet is also a friend of EVELYN DE ROTHSCHILD.
    The same Warren Buffet, that is chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, ” agreed to purchase $5 billion in Goldman’s preferred stock “.
    Barclays is a bank related with the British Crown and therefore connected with Lord JACOB ROTHSCHILD and EVELYN DE ROTHSCHILD.
    ” Lord JACOB ROTHSCHILD, the behind-the-scenes controller of the Inter-Alpha Group, was a partner at Rothschild at the time he set up the Inter-Alpha Group in 1971, using its resources and then leaving in 1980 to continue his special mission, which includes advising the genocidal British Crown and managing the funds of Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall, to finance his kooky, “green” schemes.”
    ” Prince Charles already played polo with EVELYN DE ROTHSCHILD in his student years and later set up the Interfaith consultations with him. ”
    EVELYN DE ROTHSCHILD ” In 1989, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II,[2] for whom he serves as a financial adviser. ”
    Barclays Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland are also linked with BENJAMIN DE ROTHSCHILD.

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