Isn’t it Ironic
Am I the only one struck by the cruel irony of the emerging diplomatic solution to the Syria crisis? The world was so appalled by Assad’s use of chemical weapons, yet it is now negotiating a deal that includes Russia supplying Syria with more conventional weaponry that will most likely guarantee the continuation of Assad’s campaign to slaughter his own people. No need to be surprised though. Politics are politics. Interests are interests. Bismark, Clausewitz and Machiavelli would be proud.
And there are plenty of interests to be served, should this diplomatic solution indeed succeed and military action averted. Here’s a kind of “Guide to the Perplexed” to those of us wondering about the winners and losers of this deal (should it succeed of course):
Whether successful or not, the Russian initiative should be perceived as an American accomplishment. “Si vis pacem, para bellum” goes the saying. If you want peace, prepare for war. Without Obama’s preparations for a strike, both the political maneuvering at home, and the actual military preparations – Russia and its client would not have sought out a diplomatic solution. Should it succeed, the deal will disarm Syria from its chemical arsenal and excuse the U.S. from taking a totally unwanted step. Getting rid of Assad’s chemical stockpiles also eliminates the option of extremist groups currently on the ground in Syria from getting their hands on these dangerous weapons.
Another sure winner here is Russia and the man standing at its helm – Vladimir Putin. During this crisis, Putin has managed to gain Russia a place of honor in the world, placing it on par with the U.S. as a substantial force in the Middle East with equal say and footing. By forcing Assad to agree to the deal, Putin has safeguarded Russia’s immediate interests in the region (arms supplies to its clients in the region via Tartus) and extracted it from a costly involvement in a probable conflagration.
Assad comes out unscathed. That’s his main accomplishment here. There will be no American strike that will most likely have diminished his chances to remain in power in Syria. Sure, he will probably need to give up control of the strategic leverage his father succeeded in building, but he will be receiving further conventional weapons from Russia. Thus, Assad gains the time and the resources to continue his battle against the rebels.
Iran must have taken notes during this crisis, and realized what may transpire should they choose to test Obama’s resolve. Still, they get to see their ally, Assad, live another day – which is important for Iran’s puppet organization, Hezbollah. In addition, as there can be no deal involving Russia and Syria without Iran also in the picture, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Russians didn’t chip in an incentive for the Iranians in the form of arms supplies.
Syria without chemical weapons is one threat off the long list of threats Israel faces. Also, the American accomplishment helps as a deterrent against Iran – threatening with military action seems to have paid off, and Israel can only hope the lesson was learned in Tehran. With the American attack canceled, the option of a possible Syrian retaliation is also off the table.
Europe is getting what it wanted – no war and no economic ramifications. The European economies are just starting to emerge from their respective crises, and they do not need another Middle Eastern conflict that will make the price of oil hit the ceiling.
The only losers here seem to be Jordan and Turkey, who will continue to see the streams of Syrian refugees crossing the border. But then again, the flow of refugees most likely would have been even worse in the event of an American strike. Also, Saudi Arabia can’t be thrilled to see Russia backing Iran and Syria.
And of course – there are the Syrians themselves. But who cares about them, right?