The Russian Bear Growls
President Bashar Assad Is No Great Satan
By Eric Margolis
October 04, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - Frankfurt, Germany
–Could anyone in the Obama administration have been so slow-witted
to imagine that Russia wouldn’t move hard to counter US efforts to
overthrow Moscow’s ally, Syria?
The Syrian war began almost five years ago by the
US, France, Britain and Saudi Arabia to overthrow Syria’s Iranian
and Russian-backed government. The result so far: 250,000 dead, 9.5
million refugees flooding Europe and Syria shattered.
This is nothing new: the first CIA coup attempt to
overthrow a Syrian ruler Gen. Husni Zaim was in 1949.
A combination of imperial hubris and ignorance has
led Washington to believe it could overthrow any government that was
disobedient or uncooperative. Syria was chosen as the latest target
of regime change because the Assad regime – a recognized,
legitimate government and UN member –was a close ally of America’s
Great Satan, Iran. Formerly it had been cooperating with
After watching Syria be slowly destroyed, Russia’s
President, Vladimir Putin, moved his rook onto the Syrian
chessboard. For the first time since 1991, Moscow sent a small
expeditionary unit of 50 warplanes to Syria both to shore up the
Assad regime and to reaffirm that Russia has long-standing
strategic interests in Syria.
Few of the administration’s bumbling amateur
strategists likely knew that Russia claimed during the 19th
century to be the rightful protector of Mideast Christians. Russia
watched in dismay the destruction of Iraq’s ancient Christian
communities caused by the overthrow of their protector, President
Saddam Hussein. Moscow has vowed not to let a similar crime happen
again to Syria’s Christians.
Russia is also clearly reasserting a degree of her
former Mideast influence. In 1970, Russian pilots tangled with
Israeli warplanes over the Suez Canal during the “War of
Attrition.” The flying time from Moscow to Damascus is about the
same as New York City to Miami. Syria is in Russia’s backyard, not
A highly effective propaganda war waged against
Syria and Russia by the US, French and British media has so
demonized Syria’s President Assad that Washington will find it very
difficult to negotiate or include him in a peace deal. The US made
the same stupid mistake with Afghanistan’s Taliban and now is paying
President Bashar Assad is no Great Satan. He was a
British-trained eye specialist forced into the dynastic leadership
of Syria by the car crash that killed his elder brother. The Assad
regime has plenty of nasty officials but in my long regional
experience Syria is no worse than such brutal US allies as Egypt,
Saudi Arabia, Morocco or Uzbekistan.
President Putin has long been calling for a
negotiated settlement to end this destructive conflict that is
quickly resembling Lebanon’s ghastly civil war from 1975-1990 whose
horrors I saw firsthand.
Who rules Syria is not worth one more death or
refugee. Sadly, Syria may be beyond repair. The crazies we created
are now running large parts of Iraq and Syria. Russia mutters about
going into Iraq.
Vlad Putin keeps his game tightly under control.
I’m not so sure about the Obama White House and its confused
advisors. Better make a deal with Assad, a natural US ally, and end
this crazy war before Sen. John McCain and his Republican crusader
pals really do start World War III.
Washington refuses Russia any legitimate sphere of
influence in Syria, though Moscow has had a small base in Tartus on
the coast for over 40 years. This Russian logistics base is now
being expanded and guarded by a ground force estimated at a
This week came reports that modest numbers of
Iranian infantry have entered war-torn Syria. Lebanon’s tough
Hezbollah fighters are also in action in Syria.
Opposing them are a mixed bag of irregular forces
and heavily armed religious fanatics trained and armed by US, French
and British intelligence and financed by Washington and the Saudis.
This writer believes small numbers of US and French Special Forces
and British SAS are also aiding anti-Assad forces.
Israel and Turkey, hopping to profit from a
possible break-up of Syria, are also discreetly aiding the
anti-Assad forces that include al-Qaida and everyone’s favorite
bogeyman, Islamic State.
Howls of protest are coming from Washington and
its allies over Russia’s military intervention. Don’t we hate it
when others do exactly what we do. The US has over 800 bases around
the globe. French troops operate in parts of Africa. Both nations
stage military interventions when they see fit.
Washington accuses Moscow of imperialism as 10,000
US troops, fleets of warplanes and 35,000 US mercenaries fight
nationalist forces in Afghanistan. Iraq remains a semi-US colony.
Russia withdrew all of its 350,000 troops stationed in Germany in
1991; US bases still cover Germany and, most lately, Romania.
Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning,
internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in
the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles
Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation –
Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news
sites in Asia.