27.09.2013 Author: Petr Lvov

Syria and the UN Security Council: anti-Russian trap or “salvation”?

336919373_fc124d8c14_b-635x357According to the latest information from New York, the Security Council’s resolution on Syrian chemical weapons has been approved by all five of its permanent members. Russian resident representative Vitaly Churkin told journalists Thursday that the UN Security Council could be voting on the resolution regarding destroying Syrian chemical weapons as early as Friday. According to him, voting would be possible if the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council, where the issue of Syrian chemical weapons is also being discussed, reaches its decision by Friday. “We hope that, following procedure, the OPCW Executive Council is able to reach a verdict within 24 hours. If this occurs at The Hague tomorrow evening, around 3-4pm here in New York, then we would be able to have the vote at eight in the evening,” (4am on Saturday in Moscow) said Churkin. As per the resident representative, Russia and the U.S. will present a coordinated draft resolution on Syrian chemical weapons at these sessions. According to Churkin’s information, various Russian officials will be present for the vote, such as the Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who have prolonged their stay in New York to attend the Security Council meetings.

Meanwhile, the OPCW at The Hague is set to arrive at a decision detailing the strategy to destroy chemical weapons in Syria, including sarin, which was used on August 21 outside of Damascus. The team of UN inspectors have already returned to Syria to continue their investigation of various other incidents involving the use of chemical weapons.

On September 26, after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the UN Headquarters, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Moscow and Washington have finalized their UN Security Council draft resolution on Syrian chemical weapons disarmament. The draft resolution of the OPCW has also been finalized, which deals with placing the Syrian chemical weapon stockpile under international control. State Secretary John Kerry later confirmed that the core of the resolution has definitely been negotiated with Moscow, although, according to him, the text of the draft will continue to be further refined.

It is plainly clear that Washington is staunchly defending its demands to invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which provides for the possibility of using military force. According to Lavrov, the draft resolution of the UN Security Council will not call for the use of force against Syria because the resolution will not fall under Chapter 7 of the Charter. The draft resolution also calls for the cooperation not only of the Syrian government, but also of the opposition. Although, in principle, Chapter 7 has not been completely swept to the side, and, in the event of a violation of resolution obligations with regards to the destruction of its chemical weapons, the Security Council will reconsider the issue and the possibility of utilizing this chapter. Therefore, Moscow had to concede to Washington, although it was able to hold its ground on many provisions. The most important issue now is the American interpretation of the resolution, since, as is well known, the Security Council’s resolution 1441 on Iraq (November of 2001) was used by the U.S. to defend its aggression towards Baghdad. Without invoking a second session to discuss Baghdad’s actions with regards to its disarmament inspectors, the U.S. defended its aggression by citing the mention of Chapter 7 within the resolution.

At present, the differences of interpretation between Lavrov and Kerry are still very apparent – the U.S. is firmly pushing for the possibility of using military force against Damascus in the event that the resolution is breached, while Russia believes that force can be used only if an additional resolution is passed by the Security Council.

But that is not the only issue, the more important one is what exactly is Washington hiding with this latest decision to abstain from a military operation against Damascus? Of course, in the middle of September of this year, the U.S. was not yet ready to deliver a finishing blow to the Assad regime. Naturally, Obama was forced to listen to the public opinion within his own country and Congress’ stance. It is understandable that various external factors were also opposed to the war. However, as new information from confidential sources in the U.S., Great Britain and the Middle East becomes available, other matters become clear as well. After all, no rational politician or analyst can even briefly allow the thought that Washington and its main regional ally in the form of Saudi Arabia are ready to concede the victor’s crown in the Syrian question to Moscow, much less to President Putin, while at the same time allowing the Assad regime to crush the insurgents and halt the American-Wahhabi expansion in the region. After all, if this was the case, both countries would not be able to get their hands on the “tasty morsels” of Iran and Iraq, with their enormous oil and gas resources, which, due to their natural parameters (population, territory, etc.), are the key players not only in the Persian Gulf region, but in all of the Near and Middle East. On top of that, presently, Iran is the only real potential threat to the security of Israel due to its advanced nuclear program.

Consequently, no matter who wants what exactly, the “three” of the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel are simply not able to leave Assad alone, by which they are giving Teheran the opportunity to strengthen its position in the Middle East.

Hence the behavioural change with respect to Syria. Currently, the Americans are simply dragging Russia into Syrian issues so that Moscow would sink so deeply into Syria that she would have no time for the potential behind the scenes contacts between Washington and Teheran (and these have already begun), and so that she would have no time for active politics within Central Asia with its solid energy potential (oil and gas in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan), where Russia is currently being quickly replaced by Turkey and China. Moreover, after NATO troops leave Afghanistan, Moscow will need to shift all her attention towards fighting drug trafficking in Afghanistan, which is currently destroying Russia from the inside by killing off her younger generation.

Syria is, after all, the new Afghanistan or Iraq, easy to sign up for it but hard to leave. In bogging down with Syria, Russia will be seriously limited in her actions on other southern frontiers. Not to mention the threat of radical Islamists, who are ready to fight Russia both in the North Caucasus and in Syria. Meanwhile, if the U.S. withdraws Iran and Iraq from the Syrian games and their oil begins to appear on the international markets without any restrictions, then the Russian economy, heavily reliant on the hydrocarbons, will simply not survive. Especially if Saudi Arabia throws more oil onto the European and Asian markets while Qatar does the same with LNG. Suffice it to recall what the U.S. and KSA did with the USSR under Regan, when in the mid-1980s they brought down the global oil market, dramatically lowering its prices as they introduced a tremendous amount of this “black gold” onto the market. The Soviet economy could not handle it and in a few years’ time the Soviet Union simply collapsed. Is this not the fate that is currently being prepared for Russia in Washington, Riyadh and Doha, by abandoning, even if temporarily, their plans for a violent military intervention in Syria?

This is exactly why it is too early to celebrate our diplomatic victories in Syria, be it the Geneva resolution or the resolution of the UN Security Council. Russia needs to clearly calculate the strategic prospects of getting involved in the Syrian conflict. President Putin has so far been able to do just that. In helping Damascus, by providing military aid and organizing reconciliation within Syria, Moscow, nonetheless, was not directly involved in Syria, which, it appears, will now be necessary in order to guarantee the elimination of its chemical weapon stockpiles, which also includes sending military troops there to protect the international inspectors. This issue needs to be carefully examined, and, most likely, it is better to recommend the idea of international forces under the UN flag for this purpose. Otherwise, our soldiers will become easy targets for Syrian insurgents, as well as those Northern Caucasus terrorists who are fighting in Syria on the side of Al-Qaeda to “hunt” for Russians who are currently involved in aiding Syria economically and militarily.

As they say, measure thrice and cut once. One would like to believe in the sagacity of our president, who has easily resolved all the devious plans and ploys of the West and the Wahhabi regimes up to now. As they say, you’ve chosen the wrong enemy! And, besides Syria, it is important to closely monitor how the West is slowly trying to move in on Teheran. While at the same time, aid Iraq in restoring its independence after 7 years of American occupation. The alliance of Iran, Iraq and Syria, backed by Russia, is able to thwart any strategic plans plotted by Arabian sheiks and American “brains”, even if their driving force is the “all-powerful” Saudi Prince Bandar!

Peter Lvov, Doctor of Political Sciences, with a special report for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.