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Democracy Just An Excuse In Western Plans For Syria

Global Times
March 5, 2012

Democracy just excuse in Western plans for Syria
By Xiao Xian*

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Syria has a very important geopolitical position at the heart of the Middle East. Big issues in this region, such as the Palestinian issue, terrorism, energy security, and nuclear non-proliferation are all closely related to Syria. At the moment, Syria’s surrounding countries, like Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Iraq and Lebanon, are all semi-democratic countries or have pro-US rulers, so that only Syria stands out.

Western countries have repeatedly adopted “human rights” and “democracy” as an excuse to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, and even used armed forces to topple legitimate governments. Hegemony and power politics will prevail.

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Recently Syria passed its new constitution, abolishing the president’s life tenure and changing its one-party system to a multi-party one. This is indeed an important reform in Syria’s political system, and a compromise that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made under both internal and external pressure.

Nevertheless, the new constitution can have little effect on easing current tensions in Syria. The opposition’s appetite for power isn’t any smaller than before, and anti-government campaigns across the nation are still ongoing, with even more bloody conflicts. At the same time, Western countries and hardliners in the Arab League are exerting greater pressure on the Assad administration, while expanding their support for the Syrian opposition. The situation in Syria is escalating, and the nation is on the brink of civil war.

There is a fable that a wolf met a sheep at the riverside. The wolf wanted to eat the sheep, and thus blamed it for polluting the water. The sheep explained that it was only drinking at the lower reaches of the river, but was still eaten by the wolf.

The goal of the West and hardliners in the Arab League is to change the current regime in Syria. So-called human rights, democracy and freedom are no different from the excuse of “polluting the water.” No matter what efforts the Assad administration makes, it’s no different from explaining to a wolf that “you are at the higher reaches of the river while I’m at the lower ones.”

There are several reasons why the West insists on toppling the Syrian government. After the former regimes of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen collapsed one after another, Syria is one of the few authoritarian survivors in the Arab world. Its consistent anti-US position also makes it unattractive to the West.

Syria has very close connections with Iran. The two have been backing and helping each other in political, security, economic and other important regional affairs.

Iran has a very tough attitude and tends to make no compromise with the West over its nuclear issue. Iran’s strength has some deterrence effect. In comparison, Syria is much weaker. Crumpling up Syria would mean cutting off an important arm of Iran, and it would be much easier for the West to deal with Iran in the future.

Moreover, Syria has a very important geopolitical position at the heart of the Middle East. Big issues in this region, such as the Palestinian issue, terrorism, energy security, and nuclear non-proliferation are all closely related to Syria. At the moment, Syria’s surrounding countries, like Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Iraq and Lebanon, are all semi-democratic countries or have pro-US rulers, so that only Syria stands out.

The Assad administration is a legitimate government of a sovereign country. A country’s internal affairs should be dealt with by itself, and its future path can only be selected by its own people. This is a basic rule of modern international relations, and the fundamental spirit of the UN Charter.

Western countries have repeatedly adopted “human rights” and “democracy” as an excuse to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, and even used armed forces to topple legitimate governments. Hegemony and power politics will prevail. The international community can’t help but feel grieved about this reality.

Last month, China and Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution over Syria. Russia probably had its own considerations. For China, it was very important to firmly veto the resolution, based on the considerations of protecting the basic rule of international relations, caring about the vital interests of the Syrian people, as well as upholding justice and opposing power politics.

China’s veto may not prevent Syria from an escalating situation or entering a post-Assad era. Nevertheless, the exercise of its veto has shown the rationality of China’s diplomacy, as well as the justice and independence of China’s standpoint.

*The author is professor of the School of International Studies at Yunnan University and vice president of this university.

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