It was quite a show that Russia’s ambassador to the UN offered to spectators following the US raid that killed dozens of Assad’s forces in Deir al-Zour, in eastern Syria. Listening to Ambassador Vitaly Churkin’s response to the fiery comments of US Ambassador Samantha Power was a piece of work brought back from the old days of the Cold War.
However, in the flow of Churkin’s argument, and despite his impressive performance, one question remained unanswered. If Churkin tried to figure out the answer, he may not have felt so enthusiastic to keep repeating the same record over and over again: How did the objective of the rebelling Syrian people evolve from ending the ruthless dictatorial regime into either survival or vengeance? How did the inner dynamic of Syria’s revolution shift from the positive aspiration for a better future to the negative aspects of merely defeating Assad’s gang, whatever this will bring after?
This central question is the one that may have led Churkin, assuming he sincerely believe what he was saying, to realize that it is difficult to use this argument that enthusiastically.
The accusations of the Russians that the US is working for regime change and siding with the terrorists relieve the Russian Ambassador of the need to explain who really wanted regime change in Syria and how those terrorists came to be. We all know that Assad, father and son, ruled over Syria for 45 years. Could it be possible that some mysterious black-masked American agents were able to wreak that havoc in few months? If not, why then did the Syrian people rush into the streets in hundreds of thousands in 2011 and demand that Assad step down? If it is indeed the US’s “regime change” strategy, we would have to accept that those black-masked American agents can move mountains just by pressing a button. We would also have to have a profound disregard of what the Syrian people wanted and called for in their memorable demonstrations then. American regime change? But what about the Syrian people? Do their voices count?
Wasn’t it Assad who pushed the aspiration of millions of Syrians for better democratic and descent governance into an armed conflict where the Islamists, released from prisons by Assad himself after the eruption of the revolution, mushroomed as the only available shield from the daily massacres? Didn’t President Assad want from day one to empty the dreams of all Syrians and push them onto an ideologically violent path, in order to emerge as the magic boy who can fight terrorism on behalf of the world?
If Mubarak had done the same thing in Egypt as Assad did in Syria, we would be talking now about the rise of ISIL and Nusra all over Egypt, and Ambassador Churkin would be explaining why US-Russia coordination there is crucial.
Churkin hates the Islamists in Syria, but he loves the one person that made them a reality: Bashar al-Assad. Even if Churkin prefers to talk about the present and keep the horrendous crimes committed by Assad in and after 2011 under the carpet, we can tell him one thing: Convince Assad to step down and let him say something like: If my departure can stop destroying the country and stop the death machine killing its children, so be it, I will leave if I am certain that the following regime is indeed moderate and truly Syrian. At that point, three-fourths of the opposition forces will abandon the trenches that Churkin hates so much, and the people of Syria will gather to rebuild their country and fight radical and sectarian forces together. Instead, Assad not only bombs UN humanitarian aid convoys, but throws barrel bombs on the same children over whom he is presiding. The Syrian President wants to kill and starve his people into submission. They still refuse, despite Churkin’s boss’s participation to force Syrians into surrender.
What Churkin refuses to see is that hatred and radicalism are alien to the Syrian people. Those people lived together in peace for tens of centuries. They, all of them, built a great civilization. Who made them gather around forces that neither accepted the other nor understood the true essence of a civilization? It is Ambassador Churkin and his boss’s darling sitting now in the Presidential Palace in Damascus, after destroying the “republic” the throne of which he inherited from his father. Syrians did not have a banana republic, but a myrrh one, littered with prisons where excelling in torture became a requirement to establish credentials among the ruling gang’s criminals. Then, Churkin blames the Syrian people for gathering around Islamists who fight their butcher?
When people are cornered by a killer like Assad, do not blame them if they try to find a shield behind those who fight the brutal dictator. Or at least do not join the murderer in his daily rampages to force Syrians into submission.
Terrorists do not grow from nowhere. They are always there in the weeds. But they come out and multiply rapidly when circumstances allow them. Churkin, his boss, and Bashar al-Assad gave them those circumstances, and then turned to the world to accuse others of helping terrorism. As Churkin himself said, someone has to look at the mirror.
The terrorists, once empowered by people like Assad, start playing the strategic game and selling services here and there. This is paid for by the simple Syrian parents who, for protecting their children, had to turn to “the armed guys over there”, only to hear the buzz of Russian missiles or Assad’s barrel bombs falling from the sky.
You do not have the moral right to lecture anyone, Churkin. You, your boss, and your servant in Damascus have the blood of Syrian children on your hands.