East Asian countries should learn lessons of Syrian crisis


When the Syrian crisis erupted in 2011, the influential Western media, at its peak, preached what then-US State Secretary Hillary Clinton called “Arab Spring,” as Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya preceded Syria in facing internal crises.

Thousands of young people were deceived into rushing into demonstrations that began with legitimate demands, though they were misleading and seductive, as they quickly turned into extremist inflammatory slogans that threatened the national fabric and social peace.

In Syria, they were followed by acts of sabotage that affected hundreds of public civil institutions and thousands of private properties, such as the dismantling and theft of hundreds of pharmaceutical factories in Aleppo and the sugar factory in Jisr al-Shughur, the Zayzoun power station in the Al-Ghab Plain, and the transfer of their components into Turkey.

Despite the firm belief of the Syrian leadership, at the time, that behind the events, there were Israeli-American hands, President Bashar al-Assad took the initiative to move towards comprehensive and rapid political reforms.

They included the abolition of the state of emergency, the release of all detainees, the abolition of the Supreme State Security Court, and also changing the Syrian Constitution by a popular referendum, which paved the way for broad political pluralism.

The reforms targeted to remove the pretexts for those hiding behind these demands in order to achieve an Israeli agenda aimed at undermining Syria’s central role in supporting the Palestinian cause and in restoring the occupied Syrian Golan on the basis of hundreds of UN Resolutions adopted since 1948 to date.

These comprehensive reforms also overthrew the American claims that the essential issue in Syria is “legitimate political demands of the Syrian people.” Moreover, the US administration, under President Obama, used to claim that it would not interfere in the Syrian crisis, as it was different from what had occurred in other Arab countries.

However, the subsequent events proved, beyond the slightest doubt, that the United States was the first mastermind behind all the Syrian events that entailed the comprehensive destruction of infrastructure, chaos proliferation, as well as all the crimes and acts of terrorism that penetrated different areas of Syria.

The above-mentioned political reforms had a major role in exposing Western media falsification, so Syria then began to face new types of dangers and grave challenges, as more than 100 thousand terrorist “jihadists” flowed into its territories, especially across the common border with Turkey.

They formed what is known as the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda, which took the name “Al-Nusra Front” and later “Tahrir Al-Sham,” in addition to hundreds of other terrorist organizations under different names.

Consequently, the Syrian Arab Army entered into a very costly confrontation with these terrorist organizations, present all over the Syrian territories, reaching the outskirts of the capital, Damascus.

The Syrian army suffered tens of thousands of martyrs, wounded and disabled soldiers, but it finally succeeded in inflicting major defeats on the terrorist groups and liberating major cities, such as Homs, Aleppo, Palmyra, and dozens of towns, villages, and suburbs from their control.

With the continued and increased logistical and intelligence support from the United States and NATO for these terrorist organizations, military operations rooms were established in Turkey and Jordan and were known as the “MOC” and “MOM” rooms.

The Syrian government agreed to receive direct military support from the Russian Federation in 2015 as well as military expert personnel from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The joint operations and assistance came in accordance with mutual military cooperation and defense agreements earlier signed between Syria and each of the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran, as these two countries felt directly and definitely exposed to the terrorist threats that emanated in Syria.

Hence, there was a concurrence of interest of the three countries to complete the process of liberating the Syrian lands from the control of the massive terrorist groups, of planning for the return of the displaced, and for rebuilding the infrastructure that was destroyed.

Faced with the reality of the victory of Syria and its people, led by President Bashar al-Assad, over the largest terrorist alliance that has emerged over the past 100 years — a victory that was recognized by decision-making circles in Western countries over the past years — the United States and NATO countries resorted to a new kind of war through economic terrorism.

Wide Western unilateral coercive measures and successive packages of sanctions laws were passed and enforced, with the aim of creating a state of suffocating living and economic conditions that mainly target the Syrian civilians in order to narrow their political options.

However, the most dangerous of these US measures and the most challenging one to international law was the United States’ occupation of parts of northern and eastern Syria, where the richest sources of oil, gas, and water are located, as well as fertile lands, and its establishment of separatist militias in those areas under the name of “Syrian Democratic Forces.”

These militias are being armed with sophisticated weapons by the US and fully protected through over 10 military bases that have been illegally established in the north and southeast of Syria (Altanef Base).

The world, today, may be witnessing a state of economic hardships and misery that the Syrians are suffering from, but very few may know that this is mainly due to the American occupation of those Syrian areas and the plundering of their vital resources from 2011 to date, with inflicted losses recently estimated at approximately US$115.2 billion.

This big loss of resources and revenues is distributed as follows:
– $27.5 billion of oil sector losses due to the theft of 341 million barrels of oil,
– $21.4 billion related to the theft of 5.909 million cubic meters of natural gas and 413 thousand tons of natural gas,
– $3.2 billion caused by the looting of facilities and the sabotage of others,
– $2.9 billion of losses resulting from the bombing carried out by the illegal so-called “International Coalition” of Syrian oil and gas infrastructure,
– $87.7 billion, value of the lost benefits as a result of the decrease in production on the basis of pre-planned rates under normal working conditions.

The illegal American occupation of parts of Syria, depriving the Syrian people of their natural resources as well as putting them under extremely inhuman and harsh living conditions, and prior to that, the illegal invasion and destruction of several countries, such as Iraq, raise many questions about the future of the world order in light of this American political and military bullying.

It raises several questions about the future of the United Nations that has become completely incapable of binding the United States to the provisions of its Charter or any of its resolutions.

Perhaps, the world will remember the statement of America’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, John Bolton, in 2000, that “if five floors of the United Nations were swept away, nobody will ever miss them the next day.”

American practices in Syria are not just crimes of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, but they, rather, place most countries in the world in the face of serious challenges and make their national security of paramount concern.

The beginning of the series of unilateral American interventions in the world was not in Syria, which is one of its episodes, but the first intervention dates back decades ago to Somalia, Vietnam, the Korean Peninsula, Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya.

The countries of Southeast Asia must be the most vocal today in their opposition to these devastating crises and conflicts that are being ignited and fueled by the United States based on its political theories of pre-emptive war, constructive disorder, the End of History, and the Clash of Civilizations.

The pressures that East Asian countries are currently exposed to in order to enter into military alliances, targeting China, is a premise to repeating the painful experiences in Iraq, Syria, and other countries.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo sounded the alarm when he said last week at the opening of the 43rd session of the ASEAN Association: “We realize that the global situation is not well, not to mention that future challenges have become more serious, and will lead to a struggle for hegemony and influence between the major powers.

However, ASEAN affirmed its categorical refusal to be a proxy of any country or major global power, and its commitment to strengthening unity in order to protect peace and stability in the region.”

ASEAN countries must realize that President Widodo’s warning did not come out of nowhere, but rather, from an integrated and clear vision of the upcoming or existing challenges and risks.

*) By Abdulmonem Annan, Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic -Jakarta

The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Indonesian Post.

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