Syria’s last allies
Nobody pays much attention these days to who is being killed in Syria and whether he is Shiite, Sunni, Kurd or Druze. The Syrian government claims that the people being killed are terrorists with heinous plans to destroy the country.
In fact the revolution in Syria has taken a different turn from the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. What is happening now in Syria is very similar to what happened a few years ago in Yugoslavia. As soon as Yugoslavia fell apart, a war of genocide was launched against Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.
The world only watched these events as a neutral bystander. The U.S. and Europe were content with statements of condemnation and denial and only intervened after the country was gone. The war of genocide continued with the policy of the “burnt land.”
Bosnia-Herzegovina collapsed and was turned into small cantons. The West finally got rid of an Islamic country whose presence on Christian territory was never welcomed.
Scenario for war
The United States wrote the scenario and directed the war in the former Yugoslavia. It wanted to send a message to Russia by targeting the Serbs who were Moscow’s last allies in the Balkans. It also wanted to tell Europe that it could not do anything without Uncle Sam. The Chinese embassy in Belgrade was hit by U.S. missiles.
In Syria, it was Russia which wrote the screenplay of the war, this time in order to serve its own strategy and to maintain a foothold for its naval fleet in the MediterraneanHassan Tahsin
In Syria, it was Russia which wrote the screenplay of the war, this time in order to serve its own strategy and to maintain a foothold for its naval fleet in the Mediterranean, specifically in the Tartus seaport.
Tartus is the sole harbor in the Mediterranean for the Russian naval fleet to receive logistic supplies and maintenance. It receives Russian military ships coming from the Black Sea. The seaport, however, is small and can only receive four medium-size ships at a time.
President Putin has clearly said that Tartus is vital for Russian security strategy. He also said that through its presence in this seaport, Russia will be able to support NATO’s operations against piracy in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. It is true that Russia is determined to develop its military bases in Syria as well as create new ones in other areas of the Mediterranean, such as Cyprus.
The establishment of Russian military bases in Cyprus is also a possibility, especially as Orthodox Cypriots in the country are very strong and also very rich with large land holdings and investments.
More than 40,000 Russians live on the island after Russian companies deposited $25 billion in Greek Cypriot banks, thus saving the country from collapse in view of weak European financial assistance.
The Russian-Chinese veto prevents the U.N. Security Council from passing a decisive resolution on Syria. The Syrian opposition is weak and divided, and Europe and America are not in a hurry to see an immediate end to the crisis in Syria. They, however, have started to pay attention to the new Russian-Cypriot relationship. This is an embarrassing situation. Greece, a NATO member, considers Greek Cyprus to be a part of Greece, while Turkey, also a NATO member, considers Turkish Cyprus to be a part of Turkey.
After the deployment of Russian naval forces became common knowledge, the U.S. ambassador to Nicosia made urgent contacts with government officials who assured him of the commitment of Cyprus to strengthening its ties with NATO. The new Cypriot president also said that his country is committed to further enhancing its relationship with the United States.
The situation in Syria will remain volatile until every country with an interest in the outcome has achieved its own private goals. The situation will only improve if a neutral country comes up with a strong and practical initiative such as the initiative adopted by Saudi Arabia to end the Lebanese civil war.
The Kingdom invited all the conflicting parties to an open dialogue in the city of Taif which culminated in putting an end to the 14-year civil war in Lebanon.
During the Lebanese crisis, former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat asked all foreign elements to “take their hands off Lebanon.” Today, we repeat the same call for those countries which are prolonging the duel in Syria.
They should all take their hands off Syria before Damascus is slaughtered and given as a free gift to Israel following the example of Iraq which was slaughtered by the U.S. and turned into a Jewish state along the Tigris and Euphrates.
This article was first published in The Saudi Gazette on June 13, 2013.
Hassan Tahsin is a veteran Egyptian writer and a regular contributor to pan-Arab newspapers, including the Saudi Gazette. His writing focuses on Middle East conflicts. Tahsin’s political analysis particularly centers on Arab-Israeli relations on a regional level, and Egypt’s domestic and foreign policies, including ties with the Western world. Tahsin can be reached at [email protected]