New Age Islam
Mon Oct 26 2020, 08:04 AM

Current Affairs ( 11 Oct 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Russia Joins Syria War: What It Means In The West Asian Roulette: New Age Islam’s Selection From Indian Press, 12 October 2015

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

12 October 2015

Russia joins Syria war: What it means in the West Asian roulette

By Pramit Pal Chaudhuri

Beef-eating not a virtue for Muslims

By Zafar Sareshwala

SYRIA’S GOOD REBELS AND BAD TERRORISTS

By Gwynne Dyer

RESPONDING TO A GLOBAL CRISIS

By APS CHAUHAN

 

------

Russia joins Syria war: What it means in the West Asian roulette

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri

Oct 11, 2015

In the Shia areas of Baghdad, Vladimir Putin is called “Hajji Putin” and Iraqi politicians hope Russian bombers will hit Sunni militants in the north of their country. Sunni states like Turkey and Saudi Arabia have promised to punish the Russian military who have landed in Syria.

In the first major Russian military intervention in West Asia since the Soviet collapse, Moscow’s provision of airpower, weapons and 500 soldiers to the tottering Shia regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has suddenly breathed life into a conflict dubbed “the frozen war”.

Here’s a run-down on Russia’s Damascene conversion.

Has Russia’s intervention changed the game?

In the past few months, Syrian rebels had inflicted a series of defeats on the Syrian army. Assad’s last real stronghold, the coastal highlands between Turkey and Lebanon, was endangered.

“Assad’s main problem, throughout the civil war, has been the shortage of men willing to take a bullet for him,” Jonathan Spyer of the Middle East Forum has argued. His shrinking forces had been fleshed out by plentiful but poorly-armed Iranian and Hezbollah fighters. Hezbollah suffered large casualties in its July Qalamoun offensive and had to negotiate a truce. Iran’s Al Quds commander, Qassem Soleimani, had met Putin warn him the Islamic State (IS) would end up at the Caucasus if Russia didn’t show up.

Can Russia bring the Syrian war to an end?

Moscow’s purpose is to ensure the Syrian regime’s survival. Assad’s Shia Alawi base is only 15% of the population. Winning back the four-fifths of the country held by rebels would mean a full-scale invasion. It would be a second Afghan war for Russia. Russian officials repeatedly say stress they will stick to aerial strikes.

The rebels, which includes IS and other jihadi groups, are being pushed back to where they were four months ago. Some speculate the marriage of Iranian boots and Russian arms could tip the balance decisively in Assad’s favour. But Iran, estimated to be spending $ 6-15 billion a year to prop up Assad, has lost thousands of fighters and is also stretched. More likely, the war will again “freeze”: neither side able to win, neither prepared to negotiate. Some countries, notably Israel, will see this as in their interest.

Jon Alterman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies says, “Russia drops in a couple of dozen aircraft and heads a coalition of four. Folks think this is a game-changer, because no one knows where it will go. Russia will need that flexibility, though, because it is hard to see how they intend to end their engagement.”

Read: 300 IS militants killed in Syria during intense raids: Russia

Who gains, who loses?

Putin has received a huge international boost. By taking a risk, says Dan Twining of the German Marshall Fund, he has “the strategic initiative”. Assad has won a new lease on life. The Sunni nations have received a nasty shock. They are likely to pour money into the rebels, perhaps rehabilitating IS. Expect more foreign fighters to be recruited as well.

The Barack Obama administration’s bottom line: no direct military involvement in any and all conflicts in West Asia. So it sought to use diplomacy, arms supplies and bombing to topple Assad and bring the civil war to a close. “Obama inclines towards a passive approach,” says Twining.

Russia is filling the geopolitical vacuum left by the US. After some whining, Obama’s response has been to withdraw. The US has cut all support to Syrian rebels and just said Russia gets caught in a “quagmire.” No one in the region is paying attention to the US. Worse, though, is that under an isolationist presidency, the US doesn’t care.

“Russian intervention is actively making the problem worse in terms of blowback on the West,” says Twining. Expect more refugees, less space for diplomacy, more support for IS and less safe havens for displaced Syrians.

Is Russia back as a global power?

Putin has been able to use his multi-billion oil and gas-based National Welfare Fund to pay for personal policies. As energy prices plummet so does the fund. Moscow is also shelling out more on welfare (elections coming), pipelines (countering sanctions) and now has a war to pay for. Unsurprisingly Russia’s Economic Ministry has warned 63 of Russia’s 83 provincial governments are close to bankruptcy or default as funds run dry. Russia is a colossus with feet of economy clay.

Not that Russia’s opponents in West Asia are in great shape. A GMF survey showed 57% of Turks opposed military involvement to help Syrian rebels and 70% wanted Ankara to solve its domestic problems first. Saudi Arabia new king is besieged with bad tidings: a horrific accident in Mecca, a messy intervention in Yemen’s civil war and declining petro revenues.

Syrians may have started their civil war but it is now fueled by outside players. But it is a war of the weak - none of these outsiders is strong enough to ensure its Syrians will win, Russia included.

What it may affect India

1. Oil prices are up. Russia has brought back political risk premium for global oil. But as overproduction continues, led by Russia, the price impact is moderate.

2. IS-style terror rises. The US is now giving up on Syria, thanks to Russia and the end of secular Syrian resistance. Sunni governments will feel free to work with IS as US influence declines.

3. Shia vs Sunni tussle gets worse. The Syrian war is the fulcrum of a larger Arab-Persian, sectarian struggle. With Assad back in play, the violence will go on and sectarian hatred deepen.

4. A diplomatic tightrope ahead. With interests and friends on both sides of the Sunni and Shia divide, New Delhi will avoid being on any side other than an anti-ISIS one - something increasingly hard to define.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world/russia-joins-syria-war-what-it-means-in-the-west-asian-roulette/story-PwKjVWWiYxJwqeRA2NaIoL.html

---------

Beef-eating not a virtue for Muslims

Zafar Sareshwala

Oct 11, 2015

You have to understand that there is a fundamental misconception among a major section of Hindus that eating beef is a virtue for Muslims. It is not. Islam has nowhere said you should eat beef. It is permissible to eat beef but it is not a virtue. You can eat mutton, fish or camel meat. It is not staple diet of Muslims.

Let's go back to Babur era. In Baburnama, which is the hidayat or sermon given to his son by the first Mughal emperor during his last days: "Son if you have to rule this country respect the sanctity of the beliefs of the people of this country. They worship cow so you abstain from eating beef. They consider cow as an object of worship, it is revered. Don't touch beef."

There are alternatives available; ox, buffaloes, camels and goats. All through Mughal period, even during Aurengzeb reign, cow slaughter was banned. The import of beef went up during the British era as Europeans are beef eaters. Actually they brought beef to India.

I want to make this distinction clear to Hindus. Immediately after Independence the largest seminary in Asia, Darul Uloom Deoband, issued a fatwa in 1955 that "in the interest of peace and coexistence between communities, we direct Muslims to refrain from offering beef for sacrifice because alternatives are available".

In the interest of peace if I want to respect your sanctity and even sacrifice my own custom. It is the biggest and most important obligation before God. Having said this, I want to make it clear that all this bogey about beef is being created by vested interests.

Clear distinction needs to be made between cow and buffalo meat. Cow slaughter is banned in as many as 24 states.

But India is the largest exporter of beef in the world. Many are not aware that it is buffalo meat and not cow meat. For years, 20 per cent of world's beef consumption owed to exports from India.

But the whole economic cycle involving cows does not have Muslims at the centre. In our country mainly farmers own cows. They sell cows to traders, who take them to slaughterhouses. Over 99 per cent of farmers in the country are Hindus.

When cows are slaughtered, all bones are taken away by gelatine manufacturers, blood by pharma industry and cosmetic industry and skin by leather industry. These industries are mainly owned by Hindus, who are engaged in mega exports of cow by-products.

But the law is quite strange. If you have beef in your house then you are a criminal. But if you are caught with hide, bones or blood of the cow then you are not.

Why are industries using by-products of cows including hide, bones, blood and oil not being targeted? A large number Muslims involved in meat industry are moving towards alternative sources of employment.

Beef issue is not going to make much difference. I have been to many places in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Religious polarization has become a thing of the past. It worked in 1980's and early 1990's but today the polarization is between rich and the poor, employed and the unemployed, people with houses and without.

The Balyans, Sakshi Maharajs and Adityanaths and their ilk will be relegated to history books very soon. What does an average Indian want? He wants health, education, infrastructure and jobs. During a recent visit to hinterland of Bihar along with my friend we saw people in pathetic conditions. I asked my friend - do these people look like Hindus or Musalmaan? He replied; ``they look "pareshaan" (bothered).

All the criticism against Prime Minister Narendra Modi is misplaced. I have known Mr Modi for 12 years. He is one who believes that conflict between Hindus and Muslims will put him in reverse gear and only peace and harmony can take the country forward.

There used to be fringe elements, a hundred times more potent than the Sakshi Maharajs. They ruled and terrorized for more than two decades. Mr Modi never took their names but where are such groups today? Why should you give much importance to them? All fringes will have a slow death.

The writer is chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, and a leading businessman

http://www.asianage.com/columnists/beef-eating-not-virtue-muslims-120

----------

RESPONDING TO A GLOBAL CRISIS

APS CHAUHAN

 12 October 2015 |

Different nations have responded differently to the ongoing refugee crisis. While Germany has opened its doors, Hungary has raised its fences and Britain has argued that it is already home to many migrants. India, however, seems to be largely indifferent

To the millions of refugees escaping the death-traps in their native lands of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan, not to mention Somalia, Sudan and Eretria, the European economic powerhouse of Germany is most attractive. The civil society there has actively campaigned for the refugees, putting much pressure on a dawdling Government. Germans, drenched in humanitarian warmth, can be seen holding aloft placards that read ‘Willkomme’ (welcome), to surging refugees into German cities.

This has made Germany shine forth as the EU’s conscience keeper. It has emerged as the saviour of Europe’s reputation for compassion. About 4.5 lakh refugees have already been given shelter on its soil and Germany is commited to taking in 3.5 lakh more. That will mean eight lakh refugees this  year alone. It will cost the Government an estimated 10 billion euros per annum. The refugees have been apportioned to 16 States with a multi-billion dollar federal grant.

It is not Germany’s prosperity or scope of absorption of extra employable hands into the national workforce that makes it different. It is the country’s tall humanitarianism that has made all the difference. Britain is also relatively prosperous country but it has been dithering on the refugee issue. After much pressure to respond to the crisis, Britain has agreed to take in a measly 20,000 refugees, staggered over a five-year period. But Britain is not allowing its multi-racial, multi-cultural evolution to be smudged by allegations of Islamophobia or xenophobia. And so, it has resorted to sophistry. Britain has argued that there is already a large number of immigrants in the country. The sophistry here visible in that the refugee issue has been conflated with immigration.

France (And you joyfully thought it was the land of human fraternity!), Austria, Italy and Sweden are all sitting on the EU refugee-sheltering fence and shying away from offering the extra help they are capable of. Eastern Europe, unable to do much itself for the passing hordes, is helping with transit facilities as the refugees move towards better alternatives. The Balkan countries (Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia to name a few), who carry the historical  baggage of persecution under the erstwhile Ottoman Empire are uncomfortable with the refugees marching through and worry about being ‘over-run’.

Hungary has almost started pouring scorn on the refugees, raising the  outcry of Christianity under threat, no matter that Pope Francis himself has given a clarion call to show compassion to the war victims. In fact, the Pope has also asked each parish across the continent to shelter a refugee family and the Vatican city-state has also opened its doors to refugee families.

In the Arab world, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon have stolen the limelight. Together, they are sheltering five million refugees in the region. But Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE and Kuwait, despite being wealthy and regional powers, have not taken the initiative to do their brotherly duties. Israel’s case is complicated as it is the most visible object of Arab hatred. Egypt stands aloof, caught in its own political turbulence. Moreover, the refugees themselves do not want to go to a place unable to afford them a better and secure life.

The United States, too far away for a flimsy boat ride, has responded by committing four billion dollars to aid agencies engaged in welfare activities. But it has take in just 15,000 refugees. This stinginess may be attributed to the fact that it is already home to 11 million illegal immigrants, a hot-potato issue in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

India, ever the untiring advocate of building a new moral scaffolding to the post-1945 world order, finds itself tied up in knots even in expressing a candid view of the ongoing humanitarian tragedy, much less make a prognosis.  When recently pinned down to expound on its stand on the bloodshed in Syria and Iraq and its diplomatic correctitude, the official line was that opposing or supporting Islamic State and other forces could spark off sectarian conflicts in the country. ‘Sectarian’ here refers to the Shia-Sunni historical schism. Shias in India are more politically sensitive and influential than the Sunnis in this country.

India, being one of the largest economies of the world in terms of GDP weight, and in hot contention for a permanent seat on the expanded UN Security Council,  has no reason to hark back to the Nehruvian Non-Alignment stance, rooted in ideological neutrality between two fiercely competing ideologies worldwide. The Cold War ended long back, and with that also the Age of Ideology, in the words of Francis Fukuyama. The neutrality of India in the New Century, claimed by our Prime Minister to be an Indian Century, has now seemingly acquired a ‘sectarian’ hue, which is some regression.

This is not a plea to lay open our borders for immigrants. India can hardly accommodate the refugees who themselves do not want to move eastward. However, one can make a plea for India to shed its sectarian neutrality, which is being perpetuated under the misplaced belief of being in splendid isolation, when in fact this is rather an unsplendid isolation from the cataclysmic violence in West Asia.

German humanitarian diplomacy has outsmarted Italy, which had sought to thwart Berlin’s UNSC permanent membership bid, demanding historical parity. India, likewise, has to outsmart its two greatest detractors, the China and Pakistan, which has opposed India on discredited ‘containment’ grounds. Japan, a strong contender for the UNSC seat and similarly opposed by China, has committed $1.5 billion to help refugees and aid peacebuilding in West Asia and Africa.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s current thrust on trade and investment diplomacy stands to reason, but the total diplomacy portfolio is much, much larger and should be leveraged fully to enhance our national interest. This is necessary if India is to become the emerging flavour of the world community as an influencer, effective intervener, and international mover. To the millions of refugees escaping the death-traps in their native lands of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan, not to mention Somalia, Sudan and Eretria, the European economic powerhouse of Germany is most attractive. The civil society there has actively campaigned for the refugees, putting much pressure on a dawdling Government. Germans, drenched in humanitarian warmth, can be seen holding aloft placards that read ‘Willkomme’ (welcome), to surging refugees into German cities.

This has made Germany shine forth as the EU’s conscience keeper. It has emerged as the saviour of Europe’s reputation for compassion. About 4.5 lakh refugees have already been given shelter on its soil and Germany is commited to taking in 3.5 lakh more. That will mean eight lakh refugees this  year alone. It will cost the Government an estimated 10 billion euros per annum. The refugees have been apportioned to 16 States with a multi-billion dollar federal grant.

It is not Germany’s prosperity or scope of absorption of extra employable hands into the national workforce that makes it different. It is the country’s tall humanitarianism that has made all the difference. Britain is also relatively prosperous country but it has been dithering on the refugee issue. After much pressure to respond to the crisis, Britain has agreed to take in a measly 20,000 refugees, staggered over a five-year period. But Britain is not allowing its multi-racial, multi-cultural evolution to be smudged by allegations of Islamophobia or xenophobia. And so, it has resorted to sophistry. Britain has argued that there is already a large number of immigrants in the country. The sophistry here visible in that the refugee issue has been conflated with immigration.

France (And you joyfully thought it was the land of human fraternity!), Austria, Italy and Sweden are all sitting on the EU refugee-sheltering fence and shying away from offering the extra help they are capable of. Eastern Europe, unable to do much itself for the passing hordes, is helping with transit facilities as the refugees move towards better alternatives. The Balkan countries (Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia to name a few), who carry the historical  baggage of persecution under the erstwhile Ottoman Empire are uncomfortable with the refugees marching through and worry about being ‘over-run’.

Hungary has almost started pouring scorn on the refugees, raising the  outcry of Christianity under threat, no matter that Pope Francis himself has given a clarion call to show compassion to the war victims. In fact, the Pope has also asked each parish across the continent to shelter a refugee family and the Vatican city-state has also opened its doors to refugee families.

In the Arab world, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon have stolen the limelight. Together, they are sheltering five million refugees in the region. But Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE and Kuwait, despite being wealthy and regional powers, have not taken the initiative to do their brotherly duties. Israel’s case is complicated as it is the most visible object of Arab hatred. Egypt stands aloof, caught in its own political turbulence. Moreover, the refugees themselves do not want to go to a place unable to afford them a better and secure life.

The United States, too far away for a flimsy boat ride, has responded by committing four billion dollars to aid agencies engaged in welfare activities. But it has take in just 15,000 refugees. This stinginess may be attributed to the fact that it is already home to 11 million illegal immigrants, a hot-potato issue in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

India, ever the untiring advocate of building a new moral scaffolding to the post-1945 world order, finds itself tied up in knots even in expressing a candid view of the ongoing humanitarian tragedy, much less make a prognosis.  When recently pinned down to expound on its stand on the bloodshed in Syria and Iraq and its diplomatic correctitude, the official line was that opposing or supporting Islamic State and other forces could spark off sectarian conflicts in the country. ‘Sectarian’ here refers to the Shia-Sunni historical schism. Shias in India are more politically sensitive and influential than the Sunnis in this country.

India, being one of the largest economies of the world in terms of GDP weight, and in hot contention for a permanent seat on the expanded UN Security Council,  has no reason to hark back to the Nehruvian Non-Alignment stance, rooted in ideological neutrality between two fiercely competing ideologies worldwide. The Cold War ended long back, and with that also the Age of Ideology, in the words of Francis Fukuyama. The neutrality of India in the New Century, claimed by our Prime Minister to be an Indian Century, has now seemingly acquired a ‘sectarian’ hue, which is some regression.

This is not a plea to lay open our borders for immigrants. India can hardly accommodate the refugees who themselves do not want to move eastward. However, one can make a plea for India to shed its sectarian neutrality, which is being perpetuated under the misplaced belief of being in splendid isolation, when in fact this is rather an unsplendid isolation from the cataclysmic violence in West Asia.

German humanitarian diplomacy has outsmarted Italy, which had sought to thwart Berlin’s UNSC permanent membership bid, demanding historical parity. India, likewise, has to outsmart its two greatest detractors, the China and Pakistan, which has opposed India on discredited ‘containment’ grounds. Japan, a strong contender for the UNSC seat and similarly opposed by China, has committed $1.5 billion to help refugees and aid peacebuilding in West Asia and Africa.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s current thrust on trade and investment diplomacy stands to reason, but the total diplomacy portfolio is much, much larger and should be leveraged fully to enhance our national interest. This is necessary if India is to become the emerging flavour of the world community as an influencer, effective intervener, and international mover.To the millions of refugees escaping the death-traps in their native lands of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan, not to mention Somalia, Sudan and Eretria, the European economic powerhouse of Germany is most attractive. The civil society there has actively campaigned for the refugees, putting much pressure on a dawdling Government. Germans, drenched in humanitarian warmth, can be seen holding aloft placards that read ‘Willkomme’ (welcome), to surging refugees into German cities.

This has made Germany shine forth as the EU’s conscience keeper. It has emerged as the saviour of Europe’s reputation for compassion. About 4.5 lakh refugees have already been given shelter on its soil and Germany is commited to taking in 3.5 lakh more. That will mean eight lakh refugees this  year alone. It will cost the Government an estimated 10 billion euros per annum. The refugees have been apportioned to 16 States with a multi-billion dollar federal grant.

It is not Germany’s prosperity or scope of absorption of extra employable hands into the national workforce that makes it different. It is the country’s tall humanitarianism that has made all the difference. Britain is also relatively prosperous country but it has been dithering on the refugee issue. After much pressure to respond to the crisis, Britain has agreed to take in a measly 20,000 refugees, staggered over a five-year period. But Britain is not allowing its multi-racial, multi-cultural evolution to be smudged by allegations of Islamophobia or xenophobia. And so, it has resorted to sophistry. Britain has argued that there is already a large number of immigrants in the country. The sophistry here visible in that the refugee issue has been conflated with immigration.

France (And you joyfully thought it was the land of human fraternity!), Austria, Italy and Sweden are all sitting on the EU refugee-sheltering fence and shying away from offering the extra help they are capable of. Eastern Europe, unable to do much itself for the passing hordes, is helping with transit facilities as the refugees move towards better alternatives. The Balkan countries (Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia to name a few), who carry the historical  baggage of persecution under the erstwhile Ottoman Empire are uncomfortable with the refugees marching through and worry about being ‘over-run’.

Hungary has almost started pouring scorn on the refugees, raising the  outcry of Christianity under threat, no matter that Pope Francis himself has given a clarion call to show compassion to the war victims. In fact, the Pope has also asked each parish across the continent to shelter a refugee family and the Vatican city-state has also opened its doors to refugee families.

In the Arab world, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon have stolen the limelight. Together, they are sheltering five million refugees in the region. But Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE and Kuwait, despite being wealthy and regional powers, have not taken the initiative to do their brotherly duties. Israel’s case is complicated as it is the most visible object of Arab hatred. Egypt stands aloof, caught in its own political turbulence. Moreover, the refugees themselves do not want to go to a place unable to afford them a better and secure life.

The United States, too far away for a flimsy boat ride, has responded by committing four billion dollars to aid agencies engaged in welfare activities. But it has take in just 15,000 refugees. This stinginess may be attributed to the fact that it is already home to 11 million illegal immigrants, a hot-potato issue in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

India, ever the untiring advocate of building a new moral scaffolding to the post-1945 world order, finds itself tied up in knots even in expressing a candid view of the ongoing humanitarian tragedy, much less make a prognosis.  When recently pinned down to expound on its stand on the bloodshed in Syria and Iraq and its diplomatic correctitude, the official line was that opposing or supporting Islamic State and other forces could spark off sectarian conflicts in the country. ‘Sectarian’ here refers to the Shia-Sunni historical schism. Shias in India are more politically sensitive and influential than the Sunnis in this country.

India, being one of the largest economies of the world in terms of GDP weight, and in hot contention for a permanent seat on the expanded UN Security Council,  has no reason to hark back to the Nehruvian Non-Alignment stance, rooted in ideological neutrality between two fiercely competing ideologies worldwide. The Cold War ended long back, and with that also the Age of Ideology, in the words of Francis Fukuyama. The neutrality of India in the New Century, claimed by our Prime Minister to be an Indian Century, has now seemingly acquired a ‘sectarian’ hue, which is some regression.

This is not a plea to lay open our borders for immigrants. India can hardly accommodate the refugees who themselves do not want to move eastward. However, one can make a plea for India to shed its sectarian neutrality, which is being perpetuated under the misplaced belief of being in splendid isolation, when in fact this is rather an unsplendid isolation from the cataclysmic violence in West Asia.

German humanitarian diplomacy has outsmarted Italy, which had sought to thwart Berlin’s UNSC permanent membership bid, demanding historical parity. India, likewise, has to outsmart its two greatest detractors, the China and Pakistan, which has opposed India on discredited ‘containment’ grounds. Japan, a strong contender for the UNSC seat and similarly opposed by China, has committed $1.5 billion to help refugees and aid peacebuilding in West Asia and Africa.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s current thrust on trade and investment diplomacy stands to reason, but the total diplomacy portfolio is much, much larger and should be leveraged fully to enhance our national interest. This is necessary if India is to become the emerging flavour of the world community as an influencer, effective intervener, and international mover.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/oped/responding-to-a-global-crisis.html

---------

SYRIA’S GOOD REBELS AND BAD TERRORISTS

 Gwynne Dyer

12 October 2015 |

The Russians understand that it is in their own interest to let Bashar al-Assad survive. Therefore, contrary to  US assertion, they are bombing the ‘right' people

It's been a week since the Russians began their air strikes in Syria, and the countries that have already been bombing there for over a year — the United States and some other countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation — are working themselves up into a rage about it: The Russians are not bombing the right people, they are killing civilians, they are reckless, dangerous, and just plain evil.

A statement last weekend by Nato's 28 members warned of “the extreme danger of such irresponsible behaviour” and urged Russia “to cease and desist.” When a Russian warplane attacking Islamist targets in northwestern Syria strayed across the frontier into Turkey for a few minutes, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Turks would have been within their rights to shoot it down.

The weather was poor, the target was close to the border, and the Russians apologised afterwards, but Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the incursion “does not look like an accident.” So what does he think the motive was, then? Russian pilots are getting bored, and are having a competition to see who can stay in Turkish airspace longest without getting shot down?

But the biggest Western complaint is that the Russians are bombing the wrong people. Contrary to American and European assertions, they are indeed bombing the ‘right’ people: The troops of the Islamic State that Western Air Forces have been bombing for the past year. But the Russians are also bombing the troops of the Al Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham. They might even bomb the troops of the Free Syrian Army, if they could find any.

Western propaganda makes a systematic distinction between Islamic State (bad) and the ‘opposition’ forces (all the other groups). The problem is that there is really little difference between them.

The Al Nusra Front was created in 2012 as the Syrian branch of the Islamic State, and broke away early last year in a dispute over tactics and turf. It is now the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda. Ahrar al-Sham was also founded by an Al Qaeda member, and is a close military and political ally of Al Nusra. And until the propaganda needs of the moment changed, even the United States admitted that the ‘moderate’ elements of the Syrian opposition had collapsed.

There are no reliable statistics on this, but a good guess would be that 35 per cent of the rebel troops confronting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad's regime belong to the Islamic State, 35 per cent to the Al Nusra Front, 20 per cent to Ahrar al-Sham, and 10 per cent odds and sods including the Free Syrian Army. In other words, at least 90 per cent of the armed opposition are Islamists, and probably no more than five per cent are secular, pro-democratic groups.

There are not three alternatives in Syria. There are only two: Either Mr Assad's regime survives or the Islamists take over. Really serious Islamists, who hate democracy, behead people, and plan to overthrow all the other Arab Governments before they set out to conquer the rest of the world.

They are probably being a bit over-optimistic there, but they would be seriously dangerous people if they commanded the resources of the Syrian state, and they would be a calamity for Syrians who are not Sunni Muslims. The Russians have accepted this reality, decided that it is in their own interests for Mr Assad to survive, and are acting accordingly.

The United States and its allies, by contrast, are hamstrung by their previous insistence that Mr Assad must go on human rights grounds. They cannot change their tune now without losing face, so they don't bomb Mr Assad's forces, but they persist in the fantasy that some other force can be created in Syria that will defeat both Mr Assad and the Islamic State.

Source: dailypioneer.com/columnists/oped/syrias-good-rebels-and-bad-terrorists.html

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/current-affairs/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/russia-joins-syria-war--what-it-means-in-the-west-asian-roulette--new-age-islam%E2%80%99s-selection-from-indian-press,-12-october-2015/d/104882

Loading..

Loading..