13.10.2015 Author: Yuriy Zinin

What Does the Middle East Think About Russia’s Military Campaign?

674323222The propaganda campaign, launched by the West in response to Russia’s ongoing military campaign in Syria has produced a massive response across the Arab media. Those sources that were claiming that “Assad should go” from the very beginning of the Syrian crisis reacted negatively to this development, claiming that Moscow is pursuing “imperial ambitions”.

The false nature of such claims has been exposed by a number of Arab commentators. The claims that Russia may be after some kind of occupation or meddling in Syria are particularly questionable, since they are being voiced by the same people that have backed US air strikes in this same country, notes a Palestinian author Dr. Ibrahim Alyush in his article.

It’s curious that most of those sources also condemned greatly when in the summer of 2013 President Obama refused to send US troops to Syria. Yet, today they have suddenly become “patriots”, “defenders of Syrian sovereignty” that Russia is allegedly violating, all while backing Damascus in its war against terrorists.

Russia’s involvement in Syria is also a pivotal topic across Iraqi media today. The titles of the articles being published are pretty self-explanatory: “America blackmails, Russia helps out”, “Russia’s Sukhoi Firestorm”, “A Warm Welcome to the Friendly Russia,” etc.

Iraqi analysts point out that a handful of sorties carried out by Russian pilots over the past several days have managed to inflict the damage that the United States was allegedly trying to accomplish for months. Therefore, America found itself in an awkward situation and was forced to intensify its air raids against ISIL in the Al Anbar Governorate.

A renowned Middle Eastern journalist Mohammed Jarrad says that Russia is clearly serious about fighting terrorism. Its position on Syria is appealing to Iraq – an approach in seeking a solution by using both political and military means, without putting a particular emphasis on the latter. The analyst is convinced that these fact make the Russian led coalition an ally of choice for Iraq since it serves its interests best.

A similar approach is taken by the Al-Fajr newspaper, which points out that Iraqis have craved stability and security every since the US invasion, but all hopes that were associated with the agreement on strategic cooperation between the US and Iraq are now all but lost. Meanwhile, one-third of this country’s territory remains in the hands of ISIL. Borders are open and virtually anyone can enter Iraq without authorization, which is helping to drive internal violence. In this situation, it’s time to strengthen friendly cooperation with Russia, especially after its initiative for a collective anti-terrorist effort which aims to include Baghdad.

In a situation when the Syrian Arab Republic has finally got a chance to survive a proxy war that was launched against it, analysts are speculating about the possible scenarios of the redistribution of power across the Middle East.

This redistribution was put in motion by the so-called “Arab Spring”, when the United States took advantage of the urge for change among Arabs, which allowed Washington to overthrow a number of governments, immediately followed by the outbreak of wars and conflicts waged across ethnic and religious lines.

The same fate was awaiting Syria, says a Lebanese political analyst Samih Saab, but Russian steps against terrorism that are aimed at supporting Damascus have disrupted American plans, and Washington was caught completely by surprise.

Yuri Zinin, Senior Research Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), exclusively for the  online magazine  “New Eastern Outlook”.

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