The Arab League is awaiting the return of the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) to its bosom. About this not so long ago wrote the agency Reuters. On the one hand, “the lack of support from Washington and regional heavyweight Riyadh will make it difficult to attract investment in a devastated country,” on the other,
“Sunni Muslim states should quickly take the SAR to bring Damascus out of Shiite Iran.” Moreover, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) regards Assad as the “only option” for ending Shiite influence in Syria and Lebanon.
The signal that the “villain Asad” has already been forgiven or will be forgiven was the opening of the UAE embassy in Damascus in December last year. Moreover, there was no particular opposition from America. The Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash, after consultations at the State Department, emphasized that in Syria “it is now crowded because of the Russians and Iranians,” and there is not enough Arab influence there. Thus, indirect contact between the SAR and the United States was established.
It looks like a reboot has begun and a public Western opinion. Thus, the former special envoy of the Netherlands in Syria, Nicholas Van Dam, who wrote a detailed book about the destruction of the nation about power in Damascus, is convinced that there has never been a religious union between Iranian Shiites and the Alawite political leadership of Syria. For there is nothing in common between the “mad mullahs” and the secular rule of the SAR.
The author is convinced that civil conflict, which has grown into a bloody interfaith war, is a consequence of economic disappointment with Assad’s internal policies. In essence, there is a blurring of a well-established cliché that the current head of the SAR is an authoritarian and ruthless leader who “stifles democracy in his country.” Say, the head was wrong, who does not.
To understand what is actually happening in Syria and what our troops will expect in the SAR in the future, we should go back a little.
As you know, Bashar Hafez al-Assad, under the influence of life in London, began his rule with the legal modernization of Syria. If you read his inaugural speech, associations involuntarily arise with Mikhail Gorbachev, who, not without “love of the West”, launched the restructuring in our country. This is to ensure that it was going on in 2000 in Syria. Then Bashar spoke a lot about “creative thinking”, “transparency”, “freedom of speech” and “democracy” as necessary changes.
But due to the lack of political culture and the underdevelopment of democratic institutions, the ghost of the conflict between the Alawites, Sunnis and Shiites immediately loomed. Bashar Asad hastily and quite toughly withdrew political reforms, although he remained true to neoliberalism in the economy.
As a result, Syria was quickly divided into elites and plebeians, that is, a few very rich and most poor, although the latter’s standard of living nevertheless rose compared with the period of Bashar’s father, Hafez, whose internal and foreign policies were based on confrontation with Israel. If in 2001 the GDP per capita in Syria was $ 1,317, then in 2010 it was already $ 2985, and the share of SAR in world GDP increased one and a half times from 0.063% to 0.092%. That is, the country developed faster than the global economy, although it still had an agro-hydrocarbon base.
Despite the fact that atomic weapons are considered the most deadly and destructive, non-nuclear explosions also sometimes sweep entire cities off the face of the earth, completely destroying the infrastructure and causing thousands of casualties.
To speculate that “you began to live better with me” in case of Assad, however, did not work, because people were worried not only by the growth of personal well-being, but also by justice in general. From the point of view of Nikolos Van Dam, this conflict of public interest led to a violation of the fragile ethno-confessional balance, which was subsequently taken advantage of by external forces, including Iran, which began to pursue a “Shiite crescent” policy.
Ultimately, the world media painted oil canvas on which President Assad “turned” into a villain, burning his enemies alive and poisoning children with gas. That’s because at all costs clutching at the elusive power.
And in general, for this reason, he is supported by “Putin’s” Russia, which is opposed by the “freedom fighter” – the United States.
The scheme was very simple: black is black, white is white. However, the support of the SAR from the side of the League of Arab States, which has recently begun, violates the well-established Western logic. At first glance, the rapprochement of Syria with the United Arab Emirates in particular and with the Sunni world in general is perceived as another cunning of the current president of the SAR, who used Iran for his purposes during the battle with ISIS, and is now gradually squeezing an ally from his country.
Like, it is enough for the American puppets to entice with a finger, Assad immediately forgot about those who saved him from certain death. And this is after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the Syrian fronts lost, according to official data, 2100 fighters and about 10 brigade generals. In this regard, you can even read such malicious comments: “The Americans are right that Assad is a real villain and schemer.” So, one day, the day may come when Damascus will betray Russia, whose soldiers and officers died “in a foreign land.” For the sake of justice, such a development of events may well take place, it is enough to recall the experience of relations with the former republics of the USSR.
However, there is another point of view: Assad, who called Tehran to fight against the “Islamic state”, whose troops have already fought in the suburbs of Damascus, considered Iranian assistance a “return of duty.”
In the book “Syria and Iran”, which became a political bestseller, expert Jubin Gudarzi explained that the past friendship can explain the current friendship between these countries. Damascus was Tehran’s most important military partner during the Iraq-Iran war. If it were not for the support from Hafez Asad, Baghdad would easily have defeated a weak Iran at that time, and then enslaved the Shiite country.
This is what Holly Dagres, a member of the Atlantic Council, writes about in his blog “Iran Source”: “Almost all of Tehran’s current foreign policy is based on the outcome of the Iraq-Iran war.” He recalled that Hafez Asad also convinced Algerians and Libyans to take the side of Iran against the strong army of Saddam Hussein, splits, in fact, in two Arab world. The Syrians ensured the delivery of Algerian weapons to Tehran and carried out military special operations. By the way, Algeria continues to be loyal to the allies of President Bashar Assad in the current civil war and, along with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, is a supporter of the return of Syria to the League of Arab States.
Thus, Damascus owes nothing to Iran. The departure of the IRGC and Shiite volunteers is only a matter of secret bargaining with Riyadh and, quite possibly, even with Washington, and behind Moscow’s back. In the end, this is the right of a sovereign country, no matter how insulting Russia is.
At the same time, rapprochement with the League of Arab States, as well as active support from Egypt, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates finds a response in the government of the SAR, although the solidary Arab position sounds like this – “this is not the place not only for Iranians, but also for Russians.” In general, Assad is ready to return to the state before the civil war, to which led the conflict of public interests.
No matter how sad it is to admit it, Bashar Asad still bears a substantial share of responsibility for the civil war, since he violated the social contract concluded with the people by his father Hafez. Of course, the Americans did everything to ensure that the “Arab Spring” took place, but the necessary economic prerequisites were created for this by Arabians.