The latest Russian move to withdraw its forces from Syria on Monday 14/3/2016, has sparked contradictory reactions, and even more confused analysis trying to understand the main reason behind this decision that has been dubbed by many as surprising. President Vladimir Putin announced the withdrawal, and gave orders to Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu to start the withdrawal of the key Russian forces the following day. He also directed Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov to find a political solution to the war in Syria that can guarantee the rights and safety of all Syrians.
The decision was dubbed as a positive move by NATO member states including the US, and that it establishes ground for further cooperation in the Syrian Crisis. As for those countries that support the Syrian opposition, their real position was clear for all to see through their proxies comments while conducting interviews in Geneva and in particular the Riyadh group HNC. Many comments made by members of the HNC have shown the great chasm that exists between the groups and the countries that sponsor them and other countries such as the EU that support the moderate opposition and wish to reach a negotiated settlement. As for the Syrian government, its position has been clear: the Syrian presidency coordinated the withdrawal with the Russian side.
President Putin had already stated after announcing the decision to intervene on the 30th of September 2015, following a formal request from the Syrian Arab Republic, that the objectives of the intervention are to fight terrorism and defend Russia’s strategic interests in accordance with international law. Terrorism poses a real danger to Russia, as some of the states supporting terrorism in Syria supported terror groups that exist in the Russian federation. Through that support they were able to lure some of them into Syria. These groups pose a danger to Russian national security in case they find their way back home having gained considerable military experience during their escapades in Syria.
The Russians have stressed several times through president Putin’s declarations and his minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov that their strategic interests are at stake in Syria, and that it is paramount to adhere to international law when attempting to resolve an international crisis, and that the law should be upheld without double standards in resolving the crisis.
The Russian side has attempted to have this just and fair vision of a world order upheld in international forums, especially in the UN, to prevent harm from being inflicted on entire populations through wars, and mass immigration etc., though Russia was not alone in her pursuits. Although China and the rest of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member states share Russia’s vision, NATO member states led by the US still uphold their own vision and continue their aggressive posturing towards Russia and its allies, by their relentless attempts to pass resolutions that guarantee the continuation of US global dominance even if that means trampling over international law. The Russian military intervention in Syria is the first attempt to enshrine this new vision of a world order by Russia and its allies through military power. The Russian leadership meticulously calculated their decision to intervene in Syria. They went in to fight the forces of terror that the whole world is fighting, including the US and NATO, so there is no way that anyone can deny Russia’s right to participate in the fight as it would be helping to rid the world of a malignant evil, and at the same time it is protecting its strategic national security interests. The Atlanticists were stood watching as Russia’s space, air, and marine forces were destroying the terrorists with unequal efficiency.
As a result, Russia has proved itself to be a super power, and not a regional force as the Americans and Europeans try to portray them. They are present in all the neighboring seas (Mediterranean sea, Black sea, Caspian sea) to the region and have full control over the skies of Syria. The western powers got the message, and had to concede temporarily, at least to the facts on the ground. Subsequently, they changed their calculations now that Russia has become in their eyes the new polar force in the world that can, at any time, enforce its vision whenever the need arises.
Russia’s view of any international crises does not go through the prism of imperial domination, and the Russians have made it clear to all those concerned that after achieving the goals set before the Syrian intervention with great success, now it moves to the second phase of the plan, deciding to withdraw its key forces operating in Syria. With one swift move, Russia not only announced its fait accompli in Syria, and more so, Russia’s formula for resolving an international crisis includes diplomacy and adherences to international law, thus the minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov was tasked to continue his diplomatic efforts to resolve the war in Syria, ensuring the participation of all the Syrian sides that don’t support terrorism, further affirming that Russia is with the Syrian people, and will not take sides in the conflict. In addition, it stands by the legitimate leadership and will continue to stand by any leadership that is elected by the Syrian people.
The conception and vision of the Russians in regards to international law stems from traditional Russian values, which see human values as an impetus to rely upon, and politics to safeguard rights and preserve strategic interests. This view prevents much of the harm caused by the west’s vision of achieving their strategic interests without any restraints, and no matter how duplicitous and conniving they have to be to achieve them.
The Russian goals are in harmony with those that were set by the Syrian state as a target in order to reach a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis, and that is fighting the terrorists organizations that were brought into Syria from all over the world with aid from regional countries such as Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and lets not forget the US and other western countries, through the participation of all Syrians in finding a solution to end the war and to set the foundations of a nation and end the murderous plot set against them that has destroyed homes, burned fields, and killed people.
The Russian withdrawal does not mean the war is coming to an end any time soon, neither is it a sign of Russia’s withdrawal from the crisis, after all Russia has lost personnel in Syria and will not leave the Syrian people until they are secure and safe in their own country, and all Syrians, regardless of ethnic or religious backgrounds, find a safe home in Syria. The Syrian people will never forget that there is a super power in this world that retains human values, unlike western and other regional countries that faint brotherly love. The Syrian people will proudly recall that Russia stood for a new vision of international order, that of respect and adherence to international law, peace, and love.