Why Russia is against a war on Syria
In an interview with RBTH, Yevgeny Satanovsky talks about why Russia is against a strike on Syria, how Moscow's position on the the situation in the Middle East coincides with the U.N. Sceurity Council's mandate, and what Russian ships really do in the Mediterranean.
RBTH: Why is Russia against U.S. intervention in Syria?
Yevgeny Satanovsky: Russia believes the intention of the U.S. is stupid at best and a provocation at worst, because the chemical weapons incidents are linked to the opposition’s attempts to provoke a strike against Assad. His army doesn’t have to use chemical weapons in the capital city — in the presence of U.N. inspectors — when it’s already winning the civil war. That would be political suicide for Assad.
For the opposition, which is on the losing end, however, it is the only chance. They cannot win all by themselves, even with support from jihadist terrorists from all over the world.
RBTH: So we can’t say that this civil war is fought for the sake of democracy?
Y.S.: No war in the Middle East has ever been fought for democracy, nor will it ever be. Wars there are waged by Islamists against secular authoritarian regimes, against Israel by the entire Muslim world, or by Shiites against Sunnis and vice versa. Toppling Assad would not lead to democracy, but to genocide of the Christians and Shiites [Alawites, Jafarites, Ismailites, Druz, etc.], as well as ethnic minorities — the Turcoman and the Kurds.
RBTH: What’s the reason behind the conflict, in your opinion?
Y.S.: The aggressive politics of the Sunni Islamist block: Turkey and the two Wahhabi monarchies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, aimed at re-drawing borders in the Arab world, in an attempt to establish a new Caliphate. Assad’s alliance with Shiite Iran is yet another reason for Doha and Riyadh to attack him. Plus, the Alawites — Syria’s rulers — are heretics in the eyes of Wahhabi ulamas, so [they] should be toppled and destroyed.
RBTH: Conventional wisdom says Russia is against American intervention because it wants to be able to supply arms to Assad and keep its naval base in Syria.
Y.S.: That is absolute nonsense. Russia never had a naval base in Syria. There’s a material and technical supply point at Tartous: two floating berths and a hectare and a half of land [3.7 acres], complete with a water and fuel storage facility and barracks for technical and repair crew. If Russian ships were not to call in at Syria, they would fuel up at Cyprus’s Limassol or in Israel’s Haifa, where they have already been before.
From Russia’s point of view, intervention in Syria is unacceptable for the same reasons it was so in Libya, Iraq, or Yugoslavia. In the case of Libya, Russia agreed to Western proposals on the assumption that intervention was ruled out — but it was deceived. It won’t allow this to happen again.
RBTH: The deterioration in the situation in Syria and tension in the Middle East are triggering a rise in oil prices. Russia is being criticized for not attempting to settle the conflict in the region, because it benefits from this situation. What’s your take on that?
Y.S.: Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are stirring up the conflict in the region. They are also the ones that benefit from it: the former two because of rising oil and gas prices, among other things; Turkey because of its geopolitical ambitions. Russia is not stirring up any conflict in the Middle East. Neither is it going to help the terrorists the West supports there. Those people are Russia’s enemies.
Why would the United States, France, and Britain support Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are the main sponsors of Islamist terrorists is a good question. The most likely answer is: It’s the personal interests of those countries’ leaders, who are acting for the sake of personal gain.
RBTH: Most foreigners believe Russia is delaying a U.N. decision on Syria on purpose.
Y.S.: Russia has a position on Syria. And this position coincides with China’s. Five countries have the right of veto on the U.N. Security Council. Three are for intervention; two are against. If the Russian and the Chinese positions are taken into account, fine. If not, it’s not Russia’s problem.
As far as speedy decision-making is concerned, there’s nothing more stupid than to destroy a stable country to please Islamist terrorists, no matter how rich their sponsors, who have organized the civil war in Syria. The fastest and most effective way to end it is to bomb Doha, Riyadh and Ankara.
RBTH: Can an American strike against Syria be averted?
Y.S.: No. The American leadership has decided to hit Syria — otherwise, the terrorists, who are supported by their Turkish and Gulf partners, will lose the war. After Syria, a strike against Iran will be next on the agenda.
For Saudi Arabia, this is its only chance of survival. A direct collision with Iran, which is drawing closer, could destroy it, unless the United States strikes Iran first.
RBTH: What’s the way out of this situation?
Y.S.: An immediate end to financing and arms supplies to the militants; an end to recruitment of terrorists throughout the Muslim world by Doha and Riyadh; elimination of terrorist bases in Turkey and Jordan; negotiations between those who are ready to rebuild Syria together with Assad, with the central government in Damascus.
Anything else will lead to Syria’s disintegration, genocide of the Alawites and all other Shiites, elimination of the Christians, war between the Syrian Kurds and Druz and Sunni Arabs, turning Syria into a new Lebanon with an internecine civil war for decades to come.