IS A NEW COLD WAR EMERGING IN SYRIA?
The recent turmoil in Syria proves that the country has turned into a hot zone for international politics thanks to the dual role of the world's decisive countries. The USA, for example, is interested in the country for the acquisition of the secure inflow of Middle East oil, assurance of the sustained stability of Israel and maintenance of the post-cold war unilateral American domination in the region. The Russian policy in the Middle East, in general, and in Syria, in particular, mainly focuses on preventing US influence there, in order to preserve their political, economic and strategic interests. The cold war policies of the super-powers have reemerged in Syria, in the context of the changed realities of the post-Cold War period.
During the recently held sessions of the UN General Assembly in September, Russia and the US, along with their allies, seem to have constructed an international mega plan to resolve the Syrian crisis. However, as soon as Russia initiated air strikes on IS and other extremists, the US and its allies accused it of creating a conflict that went against their interest. This double standard thus flared the fire of almost all conflicts in that region.
For example, efforts toward the chemical disarmament of Syria have been geared up by the great powers in order to safeguard their politico-economic and strategic interests. Double standards in all international interactions have been evident with regard to the manufacturing, selling and transferring weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). We can thus say that these great powers first equipped Arab dictators such as Saddam Hossein, Jein al Abedin Bin Ali, Hosni Mubarak and Bashar al Asad with chemical and biological weapons for their geo-strategic benefit, and then plotted to destroy them when they emerged as threats to their interests.
Russia and the US' and their allies' insistence to be active participants in the Syrian war clearly led them to adopt the 'two person zero-sum' game. The war threats posed by President Obama and his western allies have been seriously challenged by Russia, their strategic rival in the region.
The Bashar government from the very beginning has continuously declined any use of chemical weapons at a time when UN observers were working on detecting such WMDs in Syria. The media also circulated such news. The noted journalist Dell Gavlas, who has been working closely with AP, NPR and BBC prepared a report that the Syrian rebels had confessed to him about the use of chemical weapons. They admitted that an accident occured by their wrong-handling of chemical gas which they claimed was supplied to them by Saudi intelligence, as disclosed by the Voice of Russia. Gavlas also cited an article in The Daily Telegraph, which claimed that Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan threatened Russia with the Chechen rebels once Russia did not change its stance on Syria.
We may have a brief look at history to learn how the United States has been using the deadly chemical weapons since 1960s. The American use of 'Agent Orange' in the Vietnamese jungles between the 1960s and 1970s has been instrumental in the killing of humans as well as plants and animals, eventually creating severe ecological imbalance there. In the works of Nick Yuti, there is ample evidence of the use of napalm and white phosphorus. A report by Seymour Harsh in1968 claims that the US used DM which carries arsenic in containing riots in Vietnam. Moreover, the special forces of the US used Sarin in 1970 to kill the rebels of Laos. CNN had disclosed these events in 1998 after about two decades of the Vietnam War. During the Iran-Iraq war, the US supplied dangerous crop dusters to Iraq, as proven by the recently disclosed secret documents of the CIA. In his article titled Syria and US Imperial Project, circulated by ConterPunch.org on September 13-14, 2013, Rob Urie claimed that the Sarin gas which was used in Syria was sent by the global collaborators of Syrian rebels. According to Marcus George and Janet McBride both columnists for Reuters, Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1983 with US-supplied arms of mustard, Sarin and Tabun gas.
In an article by Fred Barbash circulated by Reuters, PM Obama's supposedly earlier isolation with Syria has been aptly described. The objection of the Senate, anti-war groups and global reaction might have prevented Obama's war rhetorics against Syria. In one of its editorials during September 2013, the China Post accused the US of violating the international 'red line'. It marks that "without making military strikes the last resort and deployed through proper authority, the US would also be crossing some red lines written by the world."
What perspectives then are evident in America's war threat? Peter Custers, the author of Questioning Globalized Militarism has clearly calculated the political economy of the US war preparations against Syria. He analysed how the US is plotting, under its declared war threat against Syria, a grand strategy to sustain its long term control over Middle East oil, the Western drive to globalise rules of armament systems and the increasing threats posed by the global military industrial complex that have transcended transatlantic boundaries in recent years. The Russian strategy also stems from the spirit of containing the US unilateral hegemony in the Middle East in order to equalise Russian gains by preserving its political, economic and geo-strategic interests that have evolved over the years. Through its recent air and land strikes against IS and allegedly other anti-Bashar rebels, it is noted that Russia is well-prepared to challenge any western or American military operation in Syria that would undermine Russia's long-standing strategic interests in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.
The author is a Professor in the Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka and is currently Dean of the School of Business and Social Sciences, Sylhet International University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org