Syria standoff no Arab Spring – former Russian PM

Yevgeny Primakov (RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Chesnokova)
Former Russian Prime Minister, ex-head of foreign intelligence and renowned Mideast expert Yevgeny Primakov says events in Syria are no drive for democracy but efforts by foreign states to displace the country’s leader over close ties with Iran.

In an article entitled To Stop One Step before Chaos, published by the Russian government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Primakov says the position of Russia and China – the two members of the UN Security Council that blocked the latest resolution on Syria – was well-founded and correct.

Primakov argues that the current events in Syria, as well as the ongoing crisis in Libya, cannot be viewed as a true Arab Spring, or people’s revolt against authoritarian regimes. In both countries, the crises started with armed revolts against the authorities, not peaceful demonstrations, the Russian expert writes.

From the very outset, media in the west, and in some Arab countries took a biased, one-sided position in covering the events. The media described only the suppression of peaceful demonstrations demanding democracy. What they did not show, is that Syrian authorities canceled emergency rule, refused to support the political monopoly of the Baath party, introduced political competition and announced democratic presidential and parliamentary elections. A significant part of Syria’s population, if not the majority, still support Bashar Assad. And there has not been a single advance made by the opposition.

Russia spared no effort to enable dialogue between the Syrian authorities and opposition, but the opposition refused all offers, Primakov writes, suggesting that the reason behind this could be foreign political advice.The expert also says that Russia and China do not reject the current resolution as a whole, but they do wish to bring it closer to reality, adding that the resolution on Libya, which the two countries supported, practically allowed a military intervention, and Russia and China do not want to be deceived again.

Primakov goes on to disclose the plans of those working to displace President Assad. He says the US and its NATO allies seek to use the current situation in the Arab world to remove leaders with whom they are not happy – primarily, due to their support for Iran.Those Arab nations that support the Syrian opposition do so because of the strife between the Sunni and Shia Muslim confessions, with many representatives of predominantly Sunni nations fearing the creation of a “Shia belt” in the Mideast, from Iraq through Iran and Syria to Lebanon.

Primakov then calls on the international community to prevent the situation from sliding into chaos and to address the main problem of the region which, in his view, is the Arab – Israeli conflict.

Yevgeny Primakov is a leading Russian expert on Middle East and international politics, who has also occupied the posts of Foreign Intelligence Service head and Prime Minister. Primakov always supported the idea of a multi-polar world, opposing US dominance in international politics. The best example of his beliefs came perhaps in March 1999 when, as Prime Minister, Primakov ordered the aircraft taking him to talks in Washington to do an about-turn when he learned that NATO forces had started to bomb Yugoslavia.