Russia, US Acting Together


February 03, 2012 "
Today's Zaman" The UN Security Council has recently met to discuss the unfolding events in Syria.

Russia’s opposition to the imposition of UN sanctions on Syria came as no surprise, so the outcome of the meeting was known in advance.

Anyway, the real purpose of some UN Security Council meetings is not to make concrete decisions but to make it clear to the entire world what the positions of the great powers are on certain matters. Another purpose of such meetings is to get rid of the responsibility of making hard decisions or to put this responsibility on other states’ shoulders. For example, maybe the US, too is not eager to intervene in Syria or impose sanctions through the UN. However, the US wouldn’t want the world to see this, as the country has, in the recent past, intervened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Pakistan despite the international community’s criticism. Maybe in the Syrian case, the US judges that it is better to hide behind Russia’s veto in order to claim that the latter is solely responsible for the non-intervention in Syria.

A similar equation has existed with Israel, too, on several occasions. Every time an issue about Israel has been on the Security Council’s agenda, the US has voted in favor of Israel’s interests and Russia never seemed that disturbed by this fact. This of course doesn’t mean that Syria or Israel’s every action is approved by Russia or the US, as these two countries are also angry at their traditional allies in the Middle East. However, they don’t want to end their alliances with them either, as they know who their allies in the Middle East would cooperate with should their alliances with Russia and the US end.

The Syrian crisis has shown once again that the members of the UN Security Council are much more interested in the strategic chess game than the number of civilians who have lost their lives. To give their decision on what to do about this crisis, great powers don’t look only at Syria but at the whole region’s map and try to predict what the future influence zones of the great powers will be. The two major players in this process are Russia and the US.

Washington’s aim is to build a solid cooperation with Russia, bypass Europe and compete with China. Russia is not against this project but it still isn’t sure that supporting the US in its rivalry with China will serve Russian interests. As the US hasn’t provided any guarantees so far, Russia is trying to keep the EU card at hand.

However, the current situation that the EU is in makes it difficult to play a meaningful role in the bargaining between Russia and the US. That’s why the main part of the bargaining is now being conducted through the Middle East, and we don’t know yet if this bargaining will end with a “partnership within a rivalry” or an “antagonistic rivalry.” Russia and the US need a third country to balance their relationship and clarify the situation. Turkey stands as the key country to support these two countries’ partnership, despite the fact that the US and Russia remain rivals in many areas. Turkey could indeed prove useful in convincing Russia to work together with the US in the global scene, or at the very least, it could facilitate their cooperation.

If such a partnership is established, the assistance of several European countries will no longer be required by Russia and the US. That’s why the EU countries that have noticed this process are now trying to push Turkey off the game. Three of the countries with which the US and Russia may cooperate are close to Turkey: Syria, Iran and Armenia. So the easiest way to stop Turkey playing a positive role is to provoke it to intervene militarily in Syria, to encourage it to adopt a harder line against Iran and to damage its relations as much as possible with Armenia. Guess which European country is trying to do all this.






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