Damascus and Beijing’s “strategic partnership” is sweet for the world – and a humiliation to the West
Syrian President Bashar Assad arrived in China’s Hangzhou final Thursday, his first go to to the East Asian large since 2004. His talks together with his Chinese language counterpart Xi Jinping culminated within the announcement of a “strategic partnership” between the 2 international locations.
Given the continuing drawdown of the battle that has engulfed his nation for 12 years and Syria’s return to the world stage through regional multilateral establishments, the worldwide media has painted his go to as a bid to finish Damascus’ diplomatic isolation. Some Western commenters have additionally decried what they name the ‘normalization’ of the Syrian president, who they contemplate a warfare legal.
Regardless of the pejorative depictions, Assad’s go to is objectively a win for anybody who needs to see a steady and safe West Asia. Additionally it is consistent with the needs of different international locations within the area. For instance, Saudi Arabia had invited Syria to its first Arab League summit for the reason that starting of the Syrian battle, which marked a turning level in Damascus’ worldwide recognition. This was shortly adopted by the United Arab Emirates inviting Syria to the COP28 local weather summit on the finish of this 12 months.
It is a massively embarrassing state of affairs for Western governments, primarily the US, who’re successfully shutting themselves out of West Asia over their very own backward insurance policies. These identical governments had banked on toppling Assad’s authorities by enlisting the assistance of regional states and exploiting sectarian division. As an illustration, the US used the predominantly Sunni Gulf states to intervene within the battle as a proxy warfare in opposition to Iran, a largely Shia nation.
Regardless of the keenness these international locations had on the time in following the US line, the fact on the bottom modified. The fast ousting of Assad didn’t manifest, and Syria descended right into a hotspot for terrorism, as Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS) gained a lot of the nation’s territory on the peak of its caliphate within the Levant area.
In 2015, Russia intervened, combating in opposition to IS and different US-backed proxy forces and serving to to prop up Assad’s faltering authorities. With out this pivotal assist, it’s sure that the Syrian authorities would have fallen and the nation would have change into a hub for worldwide terrorism. Moscow made the right resolution, strategically and morally, by heeding Syria’s pleas.
Quite the opposite, the US violated Syria’s sovereignty and worldwide regulation by illegally bombing and occupying the nation to primarily clear up its personal mess. Whereas within the midst of its regime-change operation in opposition to Assad, it launched a concurrent mission to assault Islamic State. Due to the inherent contradiction between the aims – one carried out by the CIA and one by the Pentagon – the outcome was that two US-backed proxy forces, the so-called “average rebels” in opposition to Assad and native Kurdish forces, fought in opposition to one another in some circumstances. (This embarrassing reality was confirmed to me on the time by US Congressman Thomas Massie (R – Kentucky) and later reported by the American press.)
By the top of this nightmare, West Asian international locations noticed the clear writing on the wall – Assad would keep, and the choice to him would have been far worse. That is additionally just like the state of affairs in Yemen, whereby that warfare had became a broader regional and sectarian battle with no clear finish in sight. However, due to the normalization of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Riyadh introduced the top of its intervention in Yemen, successfully ending the warfare. This was a win-win for everybody, similar to Syria’s reintegration into its neighborhood – and the world.
It is just Western nations which can be unable to learn the room and see that their textbook regime-change sport plan in Syria failed. The place they couldn’t topple Assad on the battlefield, they’re as an alternative taking out their resentment on the Syrian individuals by way of draconian sanctions and shouldering Damascus out of multilateral boards. These actions are essentially in opposition to the rules of worldwide regulation and abnormal diplomacy and are solely serving to tarnish the West’s standing in West Asia.
The world understands that the West’s staunch opposition to Assad has nothing to do together with his alleged human-rights abuses or autocratic authorities. We all know this as a result of Assad’s authorities was a key companion of the US in the course of the early levels of the Battle on Terror. As well as, a overview by The Intercept revealed on Might 11 discovered that the US bought weapons to a minimum of 57% of the world’s “autocratic” international locations in 2022, which signifies that Washington is clearly not in opposition to such political tendencies if they’re worthwhile and serve its pursuits.
Alternatively, with the announcement of a “strategic partnership” between Beijing and Damascus, China has now pledged to commit assets to facilitate Syria’s financial restoration because it rebounds from over a decade of whole warfare. After enduring such trauma, the Syrian individuals need to be welcomed again into the worldwide neighborhood, to profit from human improvement, and to take part in multilateral and worldwide actions.
Whether or not the West can settle for it or not, Syria’s present authorities is acknowledged by the UN. It may be a lynchpin within the bold Belt and Highway Initiative (BRI), of which the West Asian nation is already a component, and serving to Damascus to develop its post-war infrastructure could be mutually helpful for each international locations.
Critics in Moscow might ask ought to Russia be comfy with permitting China to intrude into its sphere of affect? The implied concern could be misguided. Each of those rising powers have their very own strengths and weaknesses and the state of affairs in Syria supplied an awesome mannequin for each to lean on their strengths and keep away from their weaknesses.
Russia was in a main place to deploy navy pressure in Syria; China was not. China has the flexibility to rebuild Syria’s dilapidated infrastructure; Russia doesn’t. Each of those elements are required to save lots of Syria, and neither energy might feasibly present each. Moreover, Moscow and Beijing have based their partnership principally on rejecting unilateralism. Injecting the notion of spheres of affect into this debate, a minimum of to the extent that nice powers can lay declare to total areas completely, might erode the muse and, because of this, the all-important relationship between these international locations. (It must be famous that China rejects the thought of spheres of affect outright, a minimum of formally).
Final 12 months, I described Syria’s inclusion within the BRI, which adopted years after Moscow’s profitable navy intervention, as a “one-two punch” from Russia and China that “marks the top of American adventurism” in West Asia. Maybe that was untimely; nonetheless, the Syria-China Strategic Partnership is definitely a knockout blow for American imperialism. It’s to be hoped that if unbiased international locations are focused for regime change sooner or later these two rising powers can repeat the Syria mannequin to defend the precept of sovereignty, uphold worldwide regulation, and defeat unilateralism.
The statements, views and opinions expressed on this column are solely these of the creator and don’t essentially characterize these of RT.