“Biting the Syrian Bullet”

BERLIN/DAMASCUS/MOSCOW (Own report) – The director of the Catholic relief organization, Caritas-Lebanon, has voiced strong criticism of the West’s policy on Syria. The West, together with its Middle Eastern allies, should finally stop equipping Syrian insurgents with military hardware, Paul Karam, Director of the Caritas-Lebanon declared. It must also stop the constant flow of citizens from European countries coming to join the Salafist terrorist militias in Syria – at the expense of the tormented civilian population. Dmitri Trenin, the foreign policy expert of the Moscow Carnegie Center, explains why the West continues to try to overthrow the Assad government, in spite of a growing demand to put an end to the reign of terror of the “Islamic State.” According to Trenin, in the course of the Syrian War, Russia succeeded in inflicting serious political setbacks on the West. The West, for its part, is doing its utmost in the Syrian War to crush Russia’s influence in the Middle East. In Germany, the call for western military intervention in Syria is again being voiced.

Return to Equal Partnership

Trenin also reminds that in May 2013, Moscow offered Washington a chance to jointly lead the process of political settlement in Syria. However, the West, turned the proposition down. In the summer of 2013, Moscow was able to negotiate the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. This was “arguably the first eye-to-eye discussions between U.S. and Russian representatives since the downfall of the Soviet Union.” With the Geneva Peace Negotiations, Russia essentially won back “the diplomatic parity with the United States” that it had lost in the early 1990s. President Putin has been able to achieve all this despite the fact that “Russia’s resources were a fraction of America’s, and its influence in Syria -not to speak of anywhere else in the Middle East – was hardly dominant.” Of course Washington was not happy to watch its Russian rival gaining influence. “Irritation” with Putin and with Russia “mounted in U.S. political circles,” concludes Trenin.[4]

From Damascus to Kiev

Trenin points out that the scandal around Edward Snowden, which had also weakened Washington and strengthened Moscow, arose alongside Russia’s empowerment in the Syrian War. The Ukraine crisis, that developed soon thereafter, “was thus not an isolated spat or a tragic misunderstanding,” but rather the next round on the spiral of the Washington-Moscow power struggle.[5] A few months ago, this was also pointed out by US experts. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6]) Nearly every means is being used in this power struggle.[7]

“The Best Option”

The West’s continuous refusal to end their war against the Assad government – in spite of the persistent advance of the “Islamic State” terrorist organization is another aspect in this power struggle against Russia. Demands for the West to change course and join the Assad government in fighting the “Islamic State,” have been raised for quite some time. Already back in December 2013, the former head of the CIA, Michael Hayden declared that he found an Assad victory to be the best option in the Syrian War; he said he could hardly imagine that the non-terrorist insurgents could win. “Someone has got to bite the bullet and say Assad stays,” considers Joshua Landis, a renowned expert on Syria, at the University of Oklahoma.[8] Back in February 2014, Berlin demonstrated its opinion of this option. At the time, the “president” of the self-proclaimed Syrian “government” in exile, which Berlin had recognized as the “legitimate representative of the Syrian people,” had had audiences with Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the chancellor’s foreign policy advisor, Christoph Heusgen. Thereafter it was proclaimed that Assad must absolutely be removed from power. Berlin has yet to revise this position.

Full article: “Biting the Syrian Bullet” (German Foreign Policy)

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