Russia and Syria – RantAWeek

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Russia and Syria

Posted by Tyler Miksanek on June 13, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Tensions have renewed between rebels and the government in Syria.  The scary news about the worsening conflict is that both sides appear to be using increasingly more destructive weapons, making everyday life more dangerous for citizens of the war torn nation.

International attempts to ameliorate the situation have been minimal.  A ceasefire, backed by the U.N., was put in place, but it failed to create an end to the deaths.  One of the reasons more has not been done is the reluctance of Russia to support the rebels.  Russia, with its permanent position on the United Nations Security Council, is able to veto measures they disagree with.

The reason Russia has been hesitant to support the Syrian uprising, or at the very least condemn Bashir al-Assad’s regime, is that Assad’s Syria has been an ally for Russia.  Additionally, Assad has allegedly bought arms from Russia, giving Russia a valuable trade partner that might be lost if the rebels take power.

Other nations have been critical of Russia’s actions, but they have not been all that outspoken until recently, when the U.S. accused Russia of supplying Assad with attack helicopters.

The U.S. is right to worry.  Thousands have already died in Syria’s bloody conflict, and Assad’s forces have commonly been indiscriminate in who they attack.  Worse news is that with a powerful weapons supplier like Russia involved, it is hard to see the Syrian conflict ending anytime soon.

The best and most obvious course of action would be pursuading Russia to end their support.  This, of course, is easier said than done.  A great deal of political capital was already expended convincing Russia to allow intervention in Libya last year.

External pressure is a difficult path forward, but perhaps we can expect some internal pressure for change as well.  Vladimir Putin’s election to a third term as Russia’s president in a vote marred with concerns over fraud has ignited large-scale protests.

Russia’s opposition has been emboldened by both the fraud allegations and by better performances in recent elections.  While Russia’s political system is still heavily stacked in Putin’s favor, the current political climate seems to be helping the opposition.

Internal change is promising, but it has no timetable.  International pressure seems  difficult, but an increasingly precarious situation in Syria may make it a more feasible solution.  As the deaths continue, it will become harder for Russia to continue their support.  For now, harsher dialogue is a better path forward than quiet acquiescence.  We must remember that Russia is a key player in fixing a broken Syria, and any progress, internal or external, is welcome.



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