Op-ed: Condemnations of Assad meaningless as long as China, Russia and Iran think he’s legitimate
The Russians have no problem telling the truth: They have no idea of the direction the Syrian crisis is heading to. In ongoing diplomatic contacts among Israel and senior Russian officials, the Russians admit that their policy is determined from one week to the next.
In fact, they’re not alone. The Russian policy, which the Chinese share, is no different in essence than Europe’s and America’s policy towards Syria. In Mideastern terms we can say that both sides are making their decisions from one massacre to the next.
A few weeks ago, the head of Israel’s National Security Agency, Major-General Yaakov Amidror, visited Moscow in a bid to convince the Russians to end their support for Assad and stop pouring weapons to his regime. The Russians made it clear that they have no intention of doing so, and never had such intention.
It’s not as though they are clinging to Assad the man; they would have no trouble endorsing someone else, as long as he will be able to preserve Russia’s regional interests the way Assad can. They also have no trouble, alongside the arms shipments, to prepare the immediate evacuation of their people should Assad fall.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz heard the same mantra, more or less, when he visited China recently and the Syria issue came up.
The Foreign Ministry’s political research center, which is an intelligence agency in every way, has been drafting detailed lists of the civilians killed in Syria since the crisis erupted: The total stands at 12,500 people. The killing rate at this time stands at 50-60 dead civilians per day, on average.
See you in next massacre
Yet despite this, the conclusion of Foreign Ministry researchers is that the state of Assad’s regime today is essentially no different than it was six months ago. There is indeed gradual erosion, yet one cannot yet see the great crisis that will prompt its collapse.
Indeed, all the talk about Assad’s de-legitimacy is meaningless as long as the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians and the Lebanese think he’s legitimate. He also maintains his legitimacy for now in large sectors of Syrian society.
So the US State Department publicizes yet another plan referring to the need to invoke the UN’s Chapter 7 and accuse Assad of undermining the global order. Big deal. The Americans are talking about 3,000 monitors – instead of the current 300 – who would also engage in enforcement. They are again talking about buffer zones along the Syrian border and about humanitarian corridors deep in Syria to be protected by gunships. For the time being, it’s all talk.
So what did we have in Syria this week? Two brutal massacres, more horrific pictures, and a meeting of world leaders in Turkey that produced numerous declarations on the Syrian question and zero actions.
We’ll see you in the next massacre. Under this state of affairs, President Assad can survive for a long time.
By Alex Fishman