Romanian entrepreneur and politician, Head of the Food Security Institute
The deteriorating situation on the ground in Syria has softened the criticism leveled against the Russian operation, yet the question of legitimacy of the intervention in Syria still remains. As long as Moscow does not provide a clear answer to it, the issue may and will be brought up whenever suitable, even long after the crisis is over.
Russia’s operation in Syria does not run against the international law, just like the US intervention in Vietnam did not, while the West’s Afghanistan, Iraq and Yugoslavia interventions were simply illegal. A bilateral treaty that stipulates mutual support has allowed the Syrian leadership to send a formal request to the Russian government asking it to intervene.
Those who oppose the Russian operation in Syria try to wipe out lines of the international legislation, arguing that the government in Damascus has lost its legitimacy because of the civil war and alleged crimes against humanity. However, there is no international court of law to determine if a regime in a country is legitimate or not. One should not forget that Syria is still a member of the UN.
The legitimacy of the Russian intervention in Syria is also determined by the rules of realpolitik. ISIS’ main target, known to anyone who is familiar with its Islamic Doctrine, is not just the Middle East but the entire planet. Technology now allows the Islamic State to carry out attacks outside the areas they control in Syria and Iraq, and the flow of refugees may have allowed potential ISIS sympathizers to infiltrate the EU.
American analysts are unanimous when they say that ISIS caused a tremendous strategic shift: For the first time in history, world powers must confront a non-state entity, which possesses offensive capabilities of a state. This entity, however, is not limited by laws or public oversight.
With ISIS now in control of swatches of land in Iraq and Syria, they may expand their control in Egypt’s Sinai, Jordan as well as Lebanon, and are capable of launching terrorist attacks globally.
As a consequence, the eradication of the Islamic State becomes an important objective for our civilization, while the legitimacy of the Russian intervention stems exactly from the impotence of other world powers to isolate the tumor called ISIS.
The reaction of the West to Russia’s intervention in Syria is inadequate to its limited scale. In 1999 for instance, NATO bombed Serbia without a UN mandate causing a collapse of the country’s political system and a secession of 15% of its territory. In 2001 and 2003 the United States, the UK and their allies occupied Afghanistan and Iraq destroying local government structures and launching “silent civil wars” which led to hundreds of thousands of victims. Yet these interventions did not lead to a political solution.
Russia deployed a limited contingent to Syria and proved successful in combating extremists there. Moscow’s objective in Syria is to prevent further civilian casualties and not to impose its own political solutions upon the Syrian people. However, Western decision makers chose to be engaged in an information war with Russia questioning the legitimacy of its operation.
The downing of a Russian SU-24 is nothing but a consequence of the attitude described above. Turkey’s actions against the Russian plane are a result of ambiguity and inconsistence that prevail in foreign policy. Vladimir Putin is outraged at Ankara’s actions and Erdogan is likely no longer happy himself given the massive diplomatic blowback. The Islamic State is the only actor that feels victorious now having sowed seeds of distrust and suspicion among civilized nations.
These double standards present in the West are becoming more and more obvious. A question comes to mind: Who in the West is interested in seeing the Islamic State as a victor in this conflict? Who would like to see modern states in the Middle East being transformed into the deadly Islamic Caliphate?