It is very unfortunate for the Syrian people that Russia has foolishly chosen to vent its frustrations out on them. Russia has been prompted to express its total support for the bloodthirsty regime in Damascus by the expanding influence of the US and its Western allies, at the expense of the rapidly diminishing Russian influence. The Russians seem indifferent to the massacres Bashar al-Assad’s regime commits against its own people, with a daily death toll rising as high as 100; a shameful figure for the regime and whoever supports it. Russia also seems indifferent to the fact that it is now only one of three states that still carry the shameful burden of supporting the Syrian regime; alongside Iran and Iraq, both of which are doing so for sectarian reasons. Russia has bewailed its recent misfortunes, and the West's domination of its old areas of influence, and thus it has resorted to a futile policy of siding with the Syrian regime. Describing the situation as political suicide [for Russia], a British newspaper remarked that the Syrian regime is eroding and collapsing, with its forces and intelligence services starting to loot banks, and it is likely that the regime will fall within two months.
We do not know how Russia sacrificed all its economic and political interests in all Arab states that called for a supportive stance with the oppressed Syrian people! In other words, however hard we try to find political, economic or strategic motives for Russia’s stance, we will not find a reason other than Russia's desire to avenge itself on the West that has caused its influence to shrink in Eastern Europe, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in other autocratic Arab states such as Libya, the then South Yemen and Somalia. Even the most rudimentary political observer could not conceive that avenging oneself at the expense of an oppressed nation, and acting to the advantage of a regime that is predestined to collapse, would be of any avail to Russia.
It is notable that the current Russian stance is similar to that of the dictatorial regimes it once supported; all the presidents who were ousted one after another repeated the famous phrase "we are different”. Similarly, the Russian stance has always gambled on the losing team, and when it collapsed, the Russians would repeat the same stance once again as if they wanted to say "this regime is different”. They did so with Saddam Hussein before he fell, and likewise with Muammar Gaddafi before he was overthrown, and now they are doing so with Bashar al-Assad, who will also fall God willing. Warnings continue to deafen the Kremlin leaders, emphasizing that the Syrian regime's collapse is inevitable and that it is just a question of time, but all warnings seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
Russia has failed to learn a lesson from the recent change in the Chinese stance towards the Syrian regime, a stance deemed more realistic [than Russia's], despite its shortcomings. China, like Russia, is incensed by the domination of the US and its allies over certain areas of influence, and so it vetoed the recent Security Council resolution to condemn the Bashar al-Assad regime. However, China then began to retract its position in view of the crimes committed by the regime, and as a result of the clear signs of its collapse, including the defections from the Syrian army - with defectors then joining the Free Syrian Army that has begun to control a number of Syrian districts, and likewise the strict stance adopted by the Arab states - led by Saudi Arabia - whereby the Arab observer mission was recalled from Syria.
Such major developments in the Syrian crisis indicate the inevitable fall of the Bashar al-Assad regime, which has now become only a question of time, whilst Russia's foreign policy has been adversely affected by its stubborn stance in support of a bloodthirsty and savage regime. Nevertheless, there has been little change in the Russian attitude, which makes us think that perhaps the Russian leaders are drinking vodka when making their political decisions.
The writer is a journalist and former member of the official Saudi National Organization for Human Rights. The article was published in the London-based Asharq al-Awsat on Jan. 31, 2012.