Saturday, August 23, 2014
The Washington Post Asks - Was Putin Right?
It was last September when Vladimir Putin penned an op-ed about Syria that ran in The New York Times. The West rejected Putin's views then but now The Washington Post asks whether Putin was right all along.
Putin argued against American airstrikes on the Assad regime.
"A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance."
"Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country," Putin wrote, suggesting that the nominally secular Assad regime, despite its misdeeds, was a stabilizing force preferable to what could possibly replace it.
Putin decried the growing Islamist cadres in the Syrian rebels' ranks: "Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria?"
It's plain that Putin's position was not purely altruistic. Russia has a relationship with Assad that extends to naval basing rights for the Russian navy. Despite that he did foresee the problem of Islamist extremism infiltrating the Syrian rebel movement. The Americans, however, believed that the Syrian regime would go the way of the Arab Spring and so we repeated the cardinal mistake we also made in Libya.
Now, like a zealous malignancy, ISIL has morphed into ISIS, threatening both the Iraqi and Syrian states and, in turn, possibly the stability of the entire Middle East.