Moscow, from Kabul to Damascus |
Al Hayat - 16 July, 2012
Author: Elias Harfoush
It is not the first time that Moscow is standing on the wrong side of history. In our region, there is the bitter memory of Soviet support for Communist rule in Afghanistan, which was rejected by the majority of Afghans.
In Europe, there was the negative role played by Moscow in the former Yugoslavia, through its political and military support for the Serbs, and the murder and oppression against Muslims and Croats in Bosnia and Kosovo, and in Croatia, to prevent the peoples of these regions from achieving their dream of independence.
Perhaps it is useful to recall the fate of Serb leaders at this time, such as Slobodan Milosevic, who died in prison, and Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, who are in prison, condemned by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, even though they were fugitives from justice for many years.
Thus, Moscow is behaving as usual when it supports the Syrian regime's oppression of its people. Comparing the resistance of the Syrian people to that of the people of Afghanistan and the "peoples" of Yugoslavia might be more appropriate than the comparison drawn by the head of the Syrian National Council, Abdel-Baset Sieda, between the Syrian revolution and the Bolshevik revolution.
This is because the latter was of a proletarian, class nature, and eventually produced dictatorial rule which the people of the former Soviet Union suffered under for 70 years. This does not appear to be the ambition that the Syrian revolution has for its country.
The USSR exited Afghanistan in an utter defeat, described at the time as resembling the defeat of the United States in Vietnam. However, this exit was made possible by the coming to power of Mikhail Gorbachev, who decided to liberate the Communist Party from its historical legacy of oppression and stand by his own people. He took a bold decision to rein in the era of Soviet darkness, and thus end its adventure in Afghanistan.
This conflict helped bankrupt the USSR politically and militarily and sever its ties with most of the Arab and Muslim world, leaving it only with allied political parties whose ideology of oppression did not differ from that of Moscow's.
Russian support for its Serb allies ended in their military defeat at the hands of the Western alliance, after the international community could no longer tolerate the massacres that were being committed. Back then, Kofi Annan (the one and the same) was the representative of the secretary general of the United Nations, and responsible for peacekeeping forces that "monitored" the massacres of Muslims in Srebrenica and elsewhere.
In both adventures, in Afghanistan and Serbia, the Russians acted as the aggressors against the people. In the former case, it was in the name of the Communist doctrine that was placed in direct confrontation with Islamic ideology by the Soviet invasion. This led to the rise of separatist movements in Muslim republics of the USSR.
In the latter case, it was in the name of sympathy for members of the same religious sect (Orthodox Christian), once again rendering Russia hostile, this time to Catholics and Muslims. In both cases, Moscow was as distant as possible from respecting the wishes of peoples and the values of democracy.
Today, there is a fear amid Moscow's adventure under Vladimir Putin, who supports the instruments of oppression in Damascus, through political support that heads off any moves against the Syrian regime in the United Nations Security Council, and military support that the regime makes use of against its people.
The fear is that we are seeing the rise of an extremist sectarian response to the oppression, similar to the "Afghan Arabs," who emerged as the result of the Islamist resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
This is because many elements are the same, such as the sectarian nature of the resistance and the flow of money and weapons, as well as the aspect of a confrontation between a regime using oppression and a people yearning for freedom.
If this phenomenon arises, it will threaten not only Syria's future and its unity, but also the stability of the entire region and the relations among its peoples. It will have an echo much greater than that of the Afghan Arabs.