It was out of its believe in freedom and justice that Syria has been failing to achieve under the brutal dictatorship of the Asad father and son, that Orient Media Group has taken part in the outbreak of the Arab Spring in Syria. And it was as much out of its believe in the right of Syrians to have an alternative legitimate authority to rule. For that reason, we stood up in confrontation and revolt against the Assad regime on February 2, 2011, following our opposition against its autonomy four months ago, on October 10, 2010, when Orient put on air its celebrated program at the time (Al-Balad Park), advocating and calling for the release of the young girl blogger Tal Al-Mallouhi. By the time we had launched our maiden Syrian opposition conference in Antalya on May 31, 2011, I tuned up my efforts into playing the role of a politician rather than a businessman! I met international figures in the fields of human rights, media, strategic research, politics and security. I sat down with European and Australian parliamentary figures at their premises in the parliaments, visited the headquarters of the US Congress, and met with senators and congressmen
At the White House, I met advisers and aides; I walked into the premises of ministries, showed up in presidential palaces and spent time with ministers, state governors, ministers, and heads of state. All for the sake to play down the death plots against the Syrians, in an effort to put forward alternatives to Bashar Assad
At dinner on an evening in 2017, the then Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman proposed that I travel along with him to Moscow to sit with the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. I pretended to be pre-occupied with eating. "I am afraid they may assassinate me!" I said. The news of the killing Russian opposition figures was echoing in the world media at the time. Startling and with dismay, he replied: “Assassinate you, while in my company?! I gave no response, and we moved on talking about other things. Next day evening, he paid me a visit at the hotel and once again, over dinner, Lieberman raised the Lavrov meeting. "We can arrange for your meeting in another country,” he said. “In 2012, Lavrov declared that he does not want the majority of Sunnis to come to power in Syria. I am a Sunni, and I absolutely have no wish to serve Bashar al-Assad regime”. I said in a firm tone of voice, this time. “Should I ever had wanted to, I would have had that before the revolution. Taking up a PM role is worthless for me; if it ever have any values! He replied, "You have left nothing for me to say”. Notwithstanding this, a year earlier, I turned down a personal advice from a Gulf figure to meet the Russians for that same reason
It was neither the Assad father nor the son who brought the relationship between Syria and Russia into being. It was Shukri al-Quwatli, the elected President who had first built the ties with the Soviets in 1957. It was a reaction towards the coup attempt that Khaled al-Azm had spoken about; saying that the American embassy in Damascus had orchestrated that plot to tie Syria with the Baghdad Pact. Even though, I believe that the Americans had pushed Syria into “The axis of evil ". A situation, which the Syrians have no interest whatsoever to be cornered into, and eventually receive the dead blow therein
Political analysts cite several reasons for the recent Russian intervention in Syria. On top of these reasons, some talk about Putin's wish to bring Russia back into the world stage as an international player competing with America, and hence prevent the West from toppling up another Middle Eastern regime and fixing up a rule dancing to its tune; as it has happened in Libya. Another reason, it is maintained, his wish to protect the old Soviet’s foothold legacy on the Mediterranean, and that when the fate of Syria will finally be decided, Russia wants to be present to secure its interests. Some however consider its move saying that it is leading a holy war to protect the Christian Arabs from the Muslims
Russia stood against the Syrian revolution and used its veto in the Security Council; notwithstanding the fact that the Western axis has more than once resorted to intervene in world conflicts, turning blind eye to vetoes. The US, though, decided to adopt the Security Council decisions regarding Syria. This has given Bashar Assad a guarantee to remain alive and leverage an international license for him to continue the killings and destruction. So much so that the death count went up from tens killed a day by rifles to hundreds. This was following his starting to use the shelling of bombs and whatever weapons stocked in the arsenal he is keeping. A license hat gave way to his using the chemical bombardment in August 2013, eventually
Russia launched its first air strikes in Syria on September 30, 2015. Following which a one of its kind erratic meeting took place between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, 36 hours later
We tend to believe that the reason behind this is that the United States felt that its interests had started go shaking by dint of its operating on the Syrian arena exclusively for about four years. Thus opening up a space for the Russians to thrust into the Syria lands by military force; rather than leaving them content with the political role. A move according to which the two countries complement the role-play of each together in Syria up until now. Russia Bowed down. Putin, in a TV interview, proudly said: "We launched precision-guided weapons from the Caspian Sea with a range of 1,500 km. We hit all targets. The situation of our military industries is good and the skills of our army personnel are tough!"
Since the beginning of last century, one of the Russians’ main concern has been and it remains to have a strong army just like and at par with the US army by its employment of modern administration and technologies. Thus, Ukraine and Syria for Putin were an outstanding opportunity to for him to show off some of his latest and most advanced modus operandi machinery. In Ukraine, advanced spy-planes and electronic warfare equipment completely jammed
communications among the Ukrainian forces. This is while the Russians deployed their advanced intelligence vehicles in Syria to ride on the factions' communications coat tails and strengthen Assad militia’s attacks. Not to mention that Syria provided an opportunity for the Russian army to take training on the use of the modern aircraft (SU 34) in different environments! By so doing, Putin restored the Russian people confidence in their army. This is because about 70% of the Russians supported his war in Syria! Following the wake up of demonstrations threatening his rule due to setbacks that the Russian army had suffered because of many accidents involving military aircrafts and submarines, and poor performance in the small state of Georgia in 2008. The success of its tested weapons on the Syrian people brought Russia back to the arms trade market
Although Russia allocated $ 81 billion for defense in 2015, making it the largest budget set for the army since the end of the Cold War, it considered its intervention in Syria a justification to keep up the spending increase. However, these external involvements along with the high inflation and low oil revenues due to the decline in its price for seven consecutive years have increased the pressure on an already overstretched regime; though Russia is acting like an empire, yet it is not
Let’s make figures talk: Russia's GDP is slightly greater than that of Spain, which does not have underground resources like Russia, and has a population of one-third of Russia's population. Furthermore, Russia's military budget is less than tenth of the US budget, one-fifth of China's budget, and less than Japan's budget
Russia and Iran
The Syrian crisis has pushed the Russian-Iranian cooperation up to new heights. They have many points that make both fit in the same shoes; both are seeking to expand their power at the expense of the region. Putin promotes himself as a world leader and holy warrior fighting terrorism in Syria. Likewise, Khamenei makes a copy-paste; though for other pretext, the Prophet of the Shiites and the spearhead of the wars of revenge! Both of the countries claim to be "secular" forces against a potential confrontation with the Sunni Islamists: both fear the return of the Taliban to Afghanistan, and fear Sunni revolutions on the outskirts of their countries, the eastern Caucasus for Russia, and threatens are facing Iran with revolutions in several border areas. Both consider the survival of Assad as the survival of their power: Iran considers the loss of Syria the spring that would bring its alliance down. While Putin considers that, his strengthening Assad is no less than his strengthening his own grip over power in Russia. Yet both countries look upon themselves as super powers!? In as far as Putin’s Middle East policy is concerned, its carries cynical pragmatism marks, re-approaching with the Gulf and Turkey. However, it is clear that he favors the Shiite axis. This is because he looks at Iran as an "anti-Western force," and hence he did not consider the Shiite Hezbollah a terrorist organization; meanwhile for the Muslim Brotherhood he did! Economically, the Russian military industries' institutions see Iran as a lucrative market. Added to this, a few years ago, the two parties discussed the idea of Tehran joining the Moscow-led Customs Union; this was in order to counterbalance the European Union's
Russia does not solve political problems; it just soothes them into sleep for a while
Russia intervened militarily in Syria in the same way it did in Chechnya, following the scorched-earth policy, accompanied by intense Russian diplomatic activity, with a sudden contraction of the American role! It seems that Obama's game with Assad has come to an end. He got what he wanted from him. It remains to have the cleaning up operations of the military and political opposition chaos be executed. Who is more fit than Russia, with its dictatorial rule that no one may hold to account, better to do!? Russia interfered and offered a package of pledges that turned out to be to no more than throwing ash in the eyes of millions of people. People who it destroyed their cities and rendered them losing their loved ones! A scenario that starts with the delivery of urgent relief aid to the stricken areas, followed by writing a new constitution for Syria and leading a political transition process that leads to stopping the war and establishing stability. However, no sooner Russia bowed down on its responsibilities and destroyed Aleppo, the most important city in the East, and on the night of its attack on Maarat al-Nu`man, the city was bombed with four hundred rockets within nine hours. The people of Maarat al-Nu`man did not expect that they would leave it alive! The region was emptied of its residents while the Russian’s politicians statements and media say that they are "chasing radical fighters and criminal bandits!” Let’s put politics aside; can anyone imagine and is it possible for a small or large country to harbor twelve million criminals and terrorists
Russia's take it or leave it policy in Syria, mirroring: “We will not allow the Sunni majority to rule Syria,” and its consequences can never be tolerated by Russia itself. It is clear that it did not allow neither the Sunnis nor any other minority, including Alawites, to offer an alternative to the Assad family that rules Syria under the auspices of foreign hands! It kept on Bashar Asad, even though they treat him with disgrace and insult him along with he represents as well! As for Assad, if he survived temporarily at the expense of the blood of millions of Syrians and the devastation of their country, he ultimately never won. Even if Russia helped him in eliminating the military and political opposition, and acted against his pledges and did not allow any opportunity to achieve transitional justice, which is the main factor for a lasting solution in any conflict, and showed him victorious and unrestrained with any commitments, local or international, It is however a temporary victory for the principle of hegemony, even if it is accompanied by the Syrians recognition of the fait accompli. Something that does not necessarily mean accepting it. The recognition of the fait accompli rather means that it is a prelude to changing it
It is also an illusion that Russia believes that it is capable of determining the final status of Syria. The US, with its unity of the military and economic powers, will not allow this to happen; and its role is coming to end, no question of that
Finally and as it should always be the case, the key to solve the issue is for the Syrians to relay on their own. Despite what they have been subject to, they are able to create their opposition front that truly represents them, which will prove the true color of its mettle towards the international players eventually. The size of the sacrifices they made, about two million martyrs and seventeen million refugees, shall never allow any force to impose on them the logic of hegemony for long
It is true to fact that there is nothing in the hand of the Syrians to tempt or scare the super powers to improve our situation. And it is true that any big military force can easily occupy Syria; however, it is certain that it will not be able to bear the cost of keeping its presence in. Syria is a poor country in as far as its natural resources are concerned; its real dependence is on the skills of its people. The Russians are a destructive military force, but they are a weak economic power that does not bear the cost of rebuilding Syria or improving the miserable situation in it. There is no fuel or electricity, even though the Russians have a large oil capacity and an important industrial power
It seems that the Russians have begun to question how to preserve the gains of their intervention, after it became clear that their drowning in the Syrian quagmire is imminent, with the inevitable collapse of the remnants of Bashar Assad's authority, which will force them to become a mandate over a country that will not pay even part of his bill. They are really in a race against time. The support to our opinion is Lavrov's coming out last week and threatening "the collapse of what he called the Syrian state"! Did the Russians understand that they have no hope apart from politics and that they must look for an alternative authority that, with their help, can create a political transition process that achieves a kind of legitimacy and justice without the Asad family? An authority which the Syrian businessmen and elites may cope with be safe, and be able to participate therewith. An authority that enables them to attract Syrians to work together in governance, administration and construction. This alone is may provide a guarantee for reconstruction and stability. Otherwise, is it just a message sent to the foreign hands sponsoring the Asad family and urging them to come for its rescue?!
* One of the Israeli military generals told me sarcastically: "The Russians sell weapons to Assad, and Assad send them to the Lebanese Hezbollah; next we bomb and destroy them. An absurd nonsense, isn’t it? Anyone has an explanation? It's the CREATIVE CHAOS, gentlemen!