People's Daily: Is West genuinely trying to 'save' Syria?

The following article is taken from the 21 February edition of People’s Daily;

At the end of the last week, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhai Jun travelled to Syria to renew diplomatic dialogue with Syrian leadership, after both Russia and Chinavetoed a UN resolution proposed by the West and its allies in the Arab world, which wasde facto calling for President Bashar al-Assad to resign.

As the Chinese diplomats were travelling to Damascus, Western mainstream press had been turning increasingly vitriolic and hawkish. Official discourses coming from the Western governments did not sound any more conciliatory. The leadership of Syria was repeatedly condemned in the strongest language possible and there has been continuous snapping at the two powers that managed to block the proposed resolution.

One should probably ask: what role is the West really playing in the conflict? Is it trying to find solutions or is it igniting the crises?

And what would the people of Syria have to pay back to Washington, London, Paris and other ‘players’ if the Assad’s government would be deposed? Even though the majority never asked for any help and probably supports the present government, it would be definitely presented with the bill.

“The West”, Congolese presidential candidate recently told me, “doesn’t have friends. It only has interests.”By now it should be obvious that the West is not known for its altruistic considerations. It does close to nothing to rescue the worst suffering countries, simply because most of them are actually suffering as a result of Western economic and geopolitical interests. If charity would be the main goal of the foreign policy of the West, the bloodbath in Congo/DRC would end many years ago-the slaughter that took between 6 and 10million people and is performed by close allies of the US and Europe and their multi-national companies. And the plundering of the mineral rich Papua would also end already several decades ago.

Some 40 to 45 million people world-wide were killed after the WWII in colonial, post-colonial, neo-colonial and imperialist conflicts led or triggered by the West: in Indochina, Indonesia, Africa, Latin America, Middle East and Oceania. One could excuse those who do not necessarily trust those sudden outbursts of compassion towards the people of Middle East and would rather give peace in Syria a chance.

If, however, the ruler or leadership is antagonistic to the Western dictate and interests, all means are put to use to overthrow him. Modern history is full of examples: Dominican Republic, Chile, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Congo, and Yugoslavia to name just a few places.

Most recently it was Libya’s turn. The UN resolution was twisted by both the European Union and the US and the country was attacked illegally. In Libya, the West immediately detected substantial (but not so ample that it would represent the majority of Libyan people) opposition to Qaddafi. It cultivated it, got directly involved and then steered it to the victory. When the violence escalated (partially through the Western support to rebellion) and the situation ‘went out of control’, invasion was justified on ‘humanitarian grounds’.

Interests of the West in Libya were always clear: the oil and the important role Tripoli played in the anti-imperialist struggle on African continent. Many in Africa saw Qaddafi’s overthrow and death seen as calamity, but very few dared to speak up from fear of Western reprisal.

That is not to say that Qaddafi was not a tyrant. However, Libya under his leadership preached the highest HDI (UNDP calculated Human Development Index) in Africa. But instead of being too preoccupied with the profit s of multinational companies, Qaddafi was busy building social net at home, which included public housing, roads, hospitals and schools. That appears to be the greatest ‘sin’. Building its own independent society and concentrating on pulling people out of poverty appears to be the most unforgiveable crime in the eyes of the Western regime.

Punishment is dreadful: officially speaking, the ‘infidel’ countries are not punished, they are ‘saved’.
And the countries that were recently ‘saved’ by the West –Afghanistan (savagely brutalized since the times of its secular pro-Soviet government), Iraq, Libya, and Honduras –are today all in the most appalling state, in catastrophe much worse than before the ‘humanitarian invasion’. Their people are going through indescribable suffering; many are desperately trying to leave.

This brutal approach is usually justified by the dogma of American and European exceptionalism, by the theory that the West is somehow unique and the only one qualified to determine what is right and what is wrong for itself and for the rest of the world.

Any country that crosses the West and its designs is immediately attacked by the most vicious but powerful propaganda apparatus. No matter how rational are its arguments.

It was announced by Zhai Jun that Beijing is calling for a referendum on the draft of anew Syrian constitution, early parliamentary elections and the establishment of a national unity government. “We call on the government of Syria to seriously heed the people’s legitimate desire for reform and development and call on the various political fractions to express their political aspirations non-violently under the rule of law,” he said. He also made it clear that China wanted this crises solved within the framework of the Arab League.

That’s all very rational and democratic. But the West sees such rational approach as unacceptable. Not because Russian or Chinese approaches are morally wrong –they are clearly not. But because, in sync with the exceptionalist doctrine, the people and the referendum on the future of their own country could not be ‘trusted’. Decisions on the issues like ‘who runs the government’ in strategically located country, could not be left to the people. It is only the West– old and until now the only prevailing colonial power block – that can determine in what direction the world (and each particular country) could move.

While the Western press is manipulatively speaking only about Russia and China in connection to the resolution, it is essential to point out that there were other states that voted against it, including Iran, Zimbabwe, North Korea but more importantly, most ofthe countries in Latin America that stand at the vanguard of the struggle against Western imperialism: Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua. All these countries that suffered terribly from the US interventionism now voted on the grounds of basic principal: the West has no moral mandate to decide the fate of the world.

And this ‘club’ of progressive nations appears to be much more legitimate than the ‘club of two’ – the US and Israel –that blocks almost all of the UN resolutions on Palestinewhile avoiding the fury of disciplined and self-censored mainstream media.

Based on its history, ancient and modern, Russia has no reasons to trust the West. And even if the latest commentaries of the Western mainstream media could actually be trusted and Russia is defensing its ally in Damascus for its own pragmatic reasons, it could still be understandable and justifiable given the fact that there are already missiles being pointed at Russia from all directions imaginable. In addition to it, if the present Syrian government collapses, the West would have suddenly almost total control of the area, definitely not very attractive prospect for both Russia and the world.

Habibe Ozdal, Turkish expert on Russia working with the Center for Eurasian Studies(USAK) commented at Today’s Zaman on February 16th, 2011: “After the Iraq War, Russia has opposed the one sided initiatives of the West. Moreover, Russia today, despite all its weaknesses, is very different than the Russia of the early 2000s. Moscow which now has something to say about the Middle East in general and Syria in particular, prefers to take up a position that is independent of, and at times even in opposition to, the West.”

Editors of the progressive National Channel in Istanbul are actually calling the Western game in the region an open aggression. A veteran documentary filmmaker Serkan Koctold me that he filmed in Syria and has clear evidence that the West was supporting violent and rough elements in the country, calling them ‘legitimate opposition’.

In Russia and among the opposition in the West there is no doubt that unless stopped, the situation may lead to the endgame in the region: total consolidation of Western power. On the 18th February, RT (Russia Today) was broadcasting analyses concluding that destruction of Syria would open the door for further invasion to Iran. Recently, Alexander Cockburn published his powerful article “Hypocrisy and Syria” at prestigious CounterPunch, arguing that the US itself has never been tolerating separatist movements on its territory: No one could doubt that determined separatist activity or armed challenges to the government of the United States are always met with immediate, overwhelming and lethal ferocity. For further historical illustration I recommend an interview with any moderately informed American Indian or black.

For a while it looked as though Obama’s government was being swept into yet another intervention, ranging itself shoulder-to shoulder with the GCC coalition, stoking the firesin Syria. That momentum was certainly checked by the Russian and Chinese veto of the US-backed resolution presented to the UN Security Council.

Opposing the dictate of the West does not have to lead necessarily to the new Cold War (unless the West chooses to see it that way: ‘You do what we say, or else!’). It could actually lead to something really great –to something that the world has been missing for decades: it could lead to diversity and to the world where the countries would again dare to go their own way and express their stands loudly and proudly, without any risk of being bombed and shattered.

Andre Vltchek ( is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He lives and works in East Asia and East Africa

For more on the situation in Syria, try these:

Imperialist war drive against Syria intensifies

Syria: Assad looks East