Two unsavory explanations for Washington’s Mideast policies

Eyad Abu Shakra

Published: Updated:

There has been talk in the past ten days that a peaceful settlement is almost finalized to resolve the Syrian crisis which started two years ago. Considering the Arabic poetic quote that says: "… blame the narrators for the untrue news," it is better to avoid the multitude of statements and focus instead on actions.

The first of the salient actions has been the escalation of the Syrian regime’s bloody oppression the popular revolution, made even worse by the regime's clear strategy of “sectarian and ethnic cleansing” by destroying cities and towns and displacing their people, particularly in Homs, its countryside as well as some Damascus suburbs.

The second, is that the full Iranian sponsorship of the Syrian regime that has now reached the stage of speaking on the regime's behalf like what happened during the press conference in Tehran when Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, in the presence of his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Mu’allem, volunteered to announce President Bashar al-Assad's intent to run for the next presidential elections. On another level there is no doubt anymore about Iran's direct support of the Syrian military. Iran has provided this support either through the active participation of Lebanon's Hezbollah in the fighting. It has also made Lebanon, now lives under the “de facto” control of Hezbollah, violate the international sanctions imposed on Syria and allow fuel supplies to reach Assad's troops and war machine.

The third, is the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's tour in the Middle East following President Barack Obama's authorization of the former to resume "negotiating" with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Although Russia’s position on Syria is well-known after three vetoes, Pres. Barack Obama still gave Kerry the green light to continue negotiations following a phone call between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin. An interesting fact here is that before the tour began, Washington was keen to say that it was "listening" tour. This means no suggestion should be expected from it; which really means that Washington has decided to let the Syrians face their own dark fate...following decades of incitement against the Damascus' regime and accusing it of fostering terrorism.

Last but not least, there is international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi's insistence to carry on with "mediation" although the hinted dimensions of the "deal" are becoming clear. It is unfortunate that such a move came from a seasoned Arab diplomat when it is compared with the stance of his predecessor Kofi Annan, who did the right thing and moved away from the responsibility of covering up Syrians' blood being shed, Syria's social fabric is being torn apart and the country's doors for the world's “takfiris” and “jihadits” are wide open.

The above are four clear-cut facts.

The Cold War

By the way, this situation brings back the memories of concessions made by the Soviet Union's last president Mikhail Gorbachev to the then U.S. President Ronald Regan near the end of the Cold War.

Back then, Gorbachev made his gratuitous concessions to one of America's most hawkish "right-wing" presidents and the bitterest enemy of the Soviet Union's for which he coined the term the “Evil Empire”

Those concessions surprised many observers because, first, they seemed unconditional, and second, because they were granted to an American administration that was not seeking partnership but really wanted and expected from Moscow nothing short of full surrender. Amid Western applause and lavish praise aimed at Gorbachev, infrequently portrayed “an inspirational and visionary leader” leading his nation in great renaissance, the Soviet leader believed the lie and went forward in a clumsy renaissance process that did not take into consideration the accumulative factors in the Soviet Union's aging and decline. Gorbachev’s actions alienated veteran traditional Marxists scared of renewal, and emboldened the “nationalist” demagogues, corrupt parasites and the right-wing self-proclaimed “liberals” who were Gorbachev to speed up the destruction of the soviet system’s weakened controls and mechanisms. In a desperate last attempt to save the Soviet experiment the traditional launched their ill-fated coup attempt which ended with the scene of Boris Yeltsin, "the doyen" of the demagogues and the corrupt, on a board of a tank announcing the end of the Soviet Union and fragmenting the entity that the naïve and egotistical Gorbachev thought he was renewing and rebuilding.

More explanations

We are witnessing a similar situation now, but the other way around. The American economy is in deep trouble. In the White House, there is a president blessed with a good heart and peaceful intentions, who has decided in advance not to engage in any confrontation no matter what the challenge is for Washington.

On the other hand, happily -residing in the Kremlin is a new tough Russian “Tsar” who understands perfectly how Western mentality works, since his days as a senior intelligence officer in Germany, and who longs to repay America in kind for humiliating his country during the 80's. Today, he is mastering the art of blackmailing what looks like a confused Washington desperate to achieve peace at any price.

The logical explanation for this reality that is causing much worry in the Middle East’s people, particularly the Syrians and the population of the GCC countries, as well as many Egyptians who are fearful of a full “Ikhwan” takeover of the Egyptian regime and society.

Actually, there are only two explanations:

The first, is that Obama’s America is now taking a path of decline similar to that of the USSR of Leonid Brezhnev and those who followed him, leading to the collapse of the Soviet experience in 1989.

The second, is that Washington, strategically allied with Israel, is really involved in the project to redraw the region's map based on an implicit agreement and consensus with Iran, with Russia as the tactic supporter.

All other explanations only reflect the lack of understanding of what is happening in the region today.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on March 5, 2013

Eyad Abu Shakra (also written as Ayad Abou-Chakra) began his media career in 1973 with An-Nahar newspaper in Lebanon. Shakra joined Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in the UK in 1979, occupying several positions including: Senior Editor, Managing Editor, and Head of Research Unit, as well as being a regular columnist. He has several published works, including books, chapters in edited books, and specialized articles, in addition to frequent regular TV and radio appearances.

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