DAMASCUS/MOSCOW/WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) – Berlin has sharply criticized Russian bombing raids in Syria. In a joint declaration with governments of several allied countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the German government claims the Russian Air Force did not target the “Islamic State” (IS) but the “Syrian opposition and civilians,” and calls on Moscow to “immediately cease” these attacks. Russian bombers, however, have not only hit bases of the IS and other jihadi militias, but also the facilities of western-armed combatants, participating in the al-Nusra Front’s offensive. Al-Nusra is the Syrian branch of al Qaeda, the primary target in the West’s post 9/11 “War on Terror.” The Russian air raids highlight a significant increase of Moscow’s influence in the Middle East and the growing influence of non-Western powers in world affairs. They are another blow to western global hegemony.
Back in the Game
For western countries, these Russian air strikes in Syria represent a major setback for several reasons. They highlight the significant increase of Moscow’s influence in the economically and strategically highly important Middle East. After its continuous loss of influence in the region since 1991, Russia has been able to strengthen its position over the past few months, for example, through close cooperation with Egypt and extensive negotiations in Syria. (german-foreign-policy.com reported ) In a recent move, Russia established a “joint information center” in Baghdad to share intelligence on IS with Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, Moscow has seen its influence wane, for example “with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gadhafi.” Now, however, it is making headway in attempts “to again take on the role of mediator in the Middle East,” according to Jeffrey Mankoff, Russia expert at the Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “In fact, Russia is challenging the assumption that the USA is the region’s key player creating the regional balance,” Mankoff declared.
Anything But Isolated
The Russian attacks are actually an aspect of the general process of non-western powers gaining influence. China’s rise to become a global power has long since been seen as inevitable. The 2008 global financial crisis has forced the West to share its privilege of shaping the world with the emerging countries – within the “G20” framework, which had previously been reserved for the G7/G8. In addition, the rise of the “BRICS” alliance is making waves: With the creation of its “New Development Bank” and its own monetary fund in July, it could, for the first time, establish an alternative to the western hegemonic financial institutions, the World Bank and IMF. NATO and its member countries’ post-1991 wars must be generally considered failures – beginning with their war on Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan (beginning in 2001), Iraq (beginning in 2003), on up to Libya (in 2011). The attempts to restrain Russia’s influence within the framework of the Ukraine conflict and isolate that country, have also failed. Moscow is “far from isolated” remarked Dmitri Trenin, Director of the Moscow Center of the US-American Carnegie Endowment. In fact, the West can no longer prevent Russia from intervening in a war, in which the West is itself massively involved, as can be seen in the current Russian operations in Syria – the first outside the territory of the Soviet Union, since its collapse in 1991.