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Russia’s ‘Sadomasochistic’ Foreign Policy Success (Ma’ariv, Israel)


“Putin’s Moscow is anxious about maintaining its national honor. It almost seems to be trying to recreate the confrontation lines of the Cold War. … To its credit: it has been very successful in this. And as the Americans say - as Moscow succeeds, it will soon find Iranian nuclear missiles arrayed on its borders and a jihadist civil war in Syria. Such Russian success is rather sadomasochistic.”


By Nadav Eyal



Translated By Sydney Bristow


Israel - Ma'ariv - Original Article (Hebrew)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Her comments about Russia last week were so direct, it is almost unheard of within United Nations walls.


WEB VIDEO: Secretary Clinton accuses Russia of supplying attack helicopters to Syria, June 14, 00:01:05RealVideo

This week, Washington and Moscow cut short their elusive masquerade. No more statements implying that they need to work together, emphasizing the consensus around the “Annan Plan” for peace in Syria and noble calls for regional stability. This week the U.S. decided to fire a warning shot over the head of the Kremlin.


Hillary Clinton exultingly entered the scene of battle. This will be her last term as secretary of state, and a confrontation with Putin’s Russia could only enhance her growing popularity. But her message, as much as she wanted to verbalize it anyway, could not have been articulated without President Obama’s approval.  [see photo box, upper right]


“We are concerned,” the secretary of state said, “about the latest information that we have, that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria.” The sentence already accuses Russia of hypocrisy. While Clinton was talking, whether it was coordinated or not, the head of the U.N. Observer Mission to Syria announced for the first time that a civil war was indeed raging in Syria. Those words inflicted particular harm on the regime in Damascus, as they are a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is a rhetorical definition with political significance. It is easy to suspect that the U.N. declaration was the direct result of a new tactic by the Assad regime: Shoot at U.N. observers when they approach areas marked out for “cleansing.”


It was, perhaps, an attempt by the U.N. to clarify that while it cannot hurt the Syrians with live rounds, it could certainly hurt – did hurt – Damascus, with public allegations. The combination of Clinton’s attack on the Russians with a determination by the United Nations on civil war creates a strong foundation for taking political action. The Russians could not ignore such a bold and blatant turn by the West: Less than a day later, [Russian Foreign Minister] Sergey Lavrov, on a visit to Iran, stated that 1) One couldn’t blame Russians for arming the Syrians, particularly not the U.S., which (according to him) is arming the other parties to the conflict, and 2) the Russians are not sending attack helicopters to Syria.



Moskovskij Komsomolets, Russia: Obama's ‘Hope’ Keeps Putin from ‘Paradise’
Ma'ariv, Israel: Why Syria is Lebanon All Over Again
Debka, Israel: Russia, China, Iran Plan 'Biggest-Ever' Middle East Maneuvers
Debka, Israel: U.S. and Russia Deploy to Syria; 'Double Prey' for al-Qaeda
NZZ, Switzerland: Houla Massacre is No ‘Turning Point’ for Syria
An Nahar, Lebanon: Syria is Another Iraq, with Israel Thrown In
FARS News Agency, Iran: U.S. and Allies ‘Revive’ al-Qaeda for Use in Syria
NZZ, Switzerland: Houla Massacre is No ‘Turning Point’ for Syria
Al-Baath, Syria: America and the ‘Global War Against Syria’
Global Times, China: U.S., West ‘Morally Accountable’ for Syria Massacre
Daily Star, Lebanon: Daylight Massacre in Syria
Telegraph, U.K.: The Real Dilemma on Syria: Can the West Go it Alone?
BBC, U.K.: Scars of Iraq War Haunt American Policy in Syria
Global Times, China: Syria Crisis China's Moment to Show it Can't Be Hemmed In
Global Times, China: Beijing Shows 'Courage' By Vetoing Syria Resolution at U.N.
Guardian, U.K.: Before Syria Crisis Expands, Obama and NATO Should Act
The Independent, U.K. : West will Soon Forget Horror Over Childrens' Slaughter
Daily Mail, U.K.: Yes, Syria is Tragic, British Intervention Would be Madness
The Daily Star, Lebanon: Daylight Massacre in Syria
The Daily Star, Lebanon: Tide Turning Against the Syria Regime
Le Quotidien d’Oran, Algeria: The 'Brutality of the World', According to Putin
Moskovskiye Novosti, Russia: 'Russia's in a Changing World,' By Vladimir Putin
Al-Seyassah, Kuwait: Russia 'Bloodthirsty', China 'Misguided', for Syria Veto
Kochi Shimbun, Japan: In Syria, the U.N. Security Council Fails the World
Hoy, Ecuador: 'Cynical Imperialists' of East and West Clash Over Syria
Estadao, Brazil: Moscow Rescues Assad: Not a 'Travesty,' a 'Humiliation'
People's Daily, China: Give 'Peace a Chance' in Syria
Mehr News Agency, Iran: Supreme Leader Says U.S. Takes Revenge on Syria
Jerusalem Post, Israel: Obama's 'Rhetorical Storm'
Debka File, Israel: First Foreign Troops in Syria Back the Rebels
Zaman, Turkey: U.S. May Be Hiding Behind Russia's U.N. Veto



Narrowly speaking, Lavrov is probably right: Moscow signed an agreement to repair and refurbish Syrian helicopters that had been supplied in the days of the Soviet Union. Even American officials admit these are not new weapons. But in the midst of the fighting in Syria, and considering the absolute air superiority of the Syrian Air Force, such a transaction is very significant given the internal conflict.


Putin’s Masochism


Of course, the point here is not an agreement on attack helicopters. The Americans are using it to create international political capital to use against Russia’s position, and make clear to the Kremlin that its actions are transparent. After months of trying to persuade Moscow and Beijing to act, more and more voices in Washington are pushing for more aggressive diplomatic and military engagement.


Last weekend for the first time, a senior U.S. official proposed the use of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter (it was actually Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, speaking in the context of sanctions). Chapter VII is the part of the Charter that gives the Security Council significant authority to impose sanctions or military action to restore peace and regional security.


Meanwhile, France, probably in concert with the White House, announced that it would table a formal proposal at the Security Council to adopt the “Annan Plan” within the context of Chapter VII. This is a complex political trap for the Chinese and Russians: they had accepted the “Annan Plan” when they believed nothing would come of it. Now the West is telling them: let’s give the plan the backing of the Security Council.


Denial, avoidance and prevention will again be exposed as the fundamental lie of the Chinese and the Russians. This diplomatic tussle is more disturbing than it looks. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West and Russia (and China) have succeeded in reaching specific understandings on action in times of crisis. When they have not, Russia was in any case weakened, and its tool box limited.


In the 1990s, Russia despised NATO intervention in Bosnia, as it was an assault on their traditional allies in Serbia, but they had no choice. Well, that reality is no more. Putin’s Moscow is anxious about maintaining its national honor. It almost seems to be trying to recreate the confrontation lines of the Cold War.


To its credit: it has been very successful in this. And as the Americans say – as Moscow succeeds, it will soon find Iranian nuclear missiles arrayed on its borders and a jihadist civil war in Syria. Such Russian success is rather sadomasochistic.


The Old Middle East


In less than a week, world leaders will gather in Rio de Janeiro to discuss a most pressing issue that has been eclipsed because of the economic crisis – the environment. Twenty years after the historic summit that established the first international treaty on global warming, representatives of hundreds of countries will return to Rio.



The conference will focus on creating green economic growth, or sustainable development; this true purpose of the formula is a Western attempt to restrain the Far East’s relatively-young industrial revolution.


It is no coincidence that we ate hearing less of the environmental agenda. The Western world lacks the money and political capital to worry about the future; its leaders are focused on rescuing the economies of America and Europe. And it is bad politics for them to try and impose stricter regulation on industry; domestic opposition would spring immediately into action claiming job losses and fewer new jobs thanks to green regulations.


The reality is very different of course; a sustainable economy created more jobs forms new types of industry. Here of course, we will hear little about the Rio Summit. That’s pretty sad, because we have no excuse account for it, say, such as, say, an economic crisis.


In the hopeful 90s, the situation was quite different. In 1994, representatives throughout the Middle East, including Israel, met and signed a document, which alone is a rare achievement. It was part of a long, multilateral process that actually began at the Madrid Conference of 1991, and ended with an agreement of the principles for a regional environmental policy: “The Bahrain Environmental Code of Conduct for the Middle East.” Forty four countries signed.


The code defines the right of countries to exploit their resources, but obliges them to ensure their policies cause no harm to their neighbors. The code also recognizes a list of tasks to be acted on jointly by countries in the region. Like many other documents from the 90s, this agreement and its promise have been pushed aside; recently, an online petition has been circulated - Israeli and Arabic – calling on Binyamin Netanyahu, Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and King Abdullah to at least implement that forgotten paper. The environment has no borders, wrote the signatories.




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[Posted by Worldmeets.US June 19, 4:29pm]




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