By Don Shay of Antimedia
Russia is destabilizing Syria — according to those destabilizing Syria.
In a move many consider to be an act of bitter defiance to the West, the Russian government appears to have significantly increased its military aid to the Syrian regime. This support hinges largely on the provision of providing advanced weaponry — such as tanks and artillery — training Syrian soldiers to use those weapons systems, and Russian-led airstrikesagainst ISIS. Unsurprisingly, Western media pundits and officials (and their devoted followers) are expressing renewed outrage over Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict — at the same time, excluding pertinent background information on Russia’s historical roots in the region.
Russia’s support for Syria dates back to 1946, when Russia helped consolidate Syria’s independence. The two countries mutually came to a diplomatic and military agreement in the form of a non-aggression pact, which was enacted on April 20, 1950. In this pact, Russia promised support to the newly-created Syria by helping to develop its military and by providing tactical support. Essentially, Russia and Syria have been cooperating for decades both militarily and economically, with Russia maintaining a naval base on the Syrian Mediterranean.
Regardless of history, it matters little if global consensus opinion supports Russia. The reality is that the war in Syria has no positive outcomes for the people living there. If Assad is removed from power, it is likely the country will fall completely into the hands of ISIS and other terror groups — much like what occurred in Libya and Iraq. The United States’ prospects in the region seem dismal to anyone with a track record of our earlier interventions. If the U.S. placed more emphasis on diplomacy and less emphasis on arming belligerents, however, a political solution to the Syrian conflict would be much more of a possibility.
A primary criticism of Russia’s relationship with Syria is that arming Assad is an attempt to prolong the conflict and destroy the nation. U.S. pundits point fingers at Russia as if its allegiance with Syria is a new development without understanding the historical intricacies of the Russian-Syrian relationship. In contrast, many individuals complaining about Russia’s role in “destabilizing Syria” and “prolonging the conflict” do not apply the same scrutiny to the United States’ new-found interest in the country.
It is no secret the United States has armed, trained, and financed the Syrian rebels for nearly the entire duration of the conflict. Does this implicate the United States in prolonging the conflict? U.S.-backed fighters have consistently defected to ISIS and Al-Qaeda, transferring their battle experience and weaponry to virulent terrorist groups. When Al-Qaeda violently occupies villages and towns and ISIS fighters send scores of refugees fleeing for their lives, should the U.S. policy that caused such a catastrophe be questioned?
Critics concerned by what Russia is accused of doing — destabilizing Syria and prolonging the conflict— should be equally opposed to U.S. intervention in that country. U.S. intervention in Syria, much like U.S. intervention elsewhere, has culminated in unprecedented destabilization and blowback. However, most people — as George Orwell understood — have a lopsided view of history, as they ignore and almost refuse to come to terms with the atrocities their own state commits, and by that logic, ignore the detrimental role the United States has played in Syria.
The tragedy of the current crisis in Syria is not that hundreds of thousands of people have died or that millions more have become refugees. What makes the death and suffering of so many Syrians tragic is that their pain and grief achieved nothing. It seems there will be no silver lining around the bottomless and ever-expanding pit of war and death in Syria.
One of the best solutions for a peaceful Syria hinges on the United States completely withdrawing from the region and the U.N. strengthening, instead of impeding, democratic movements that usher in a peaceful transition from chaos to stability. Calling for U.S. intervention in this region is simply perpetuating decades-old Russian-American animosity expressed through what could be considered a proxy war between terrorists on both sides of the political spectrum in Syria. This will only hurt innocent civilians by causing death and destruction — and by extension, promoting continued massive movements of refugees.