Russia is fighting an international political battle to protect the Syrian regime from the bid to topple it [launched] by the [Arab League], the US and the West in general. This struggle raises questions about the reasons for Russia’s determination [to support] Syria, and whether this position is permanent or temporary, and therefore open to changes or amendments according to circumstances, developments and interests.
A diplomatic interpretation points to the firmness of the Russian position in this battle. [this interpretation] is based on the meeting of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) on the sidelines of the regular session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York last September, prior to the Russian-Chinese "double veto," which aborted a Western draft resolution against Syria last fall.
A prominent diplomatic figure in New York said that a few hours after that meeting, he met with a diplomat of one of the BRICS countries and learned from him that radical changes are taking place worldwide, and that "the US and Europe are suffering from political, financial and economic weakness, adding to the US military collapse in more than one country around the world. Therefore, a new path will henceforth be followed at the Security Council, and (these [BRICS] countries) have taken a decision once and for all to prohibit the United States and the West from continuing to unilaterally rule the world - especially through managing the UN Security Council alone, while catering to [their own] interests. The US monopoly and unilateral management of the world are over.”
This interpretation explains the apparent capital flow of Arab immigrants. In the past, [these immigrants] had immigrated to the US [but are currently willing to return to the East], "given that the American Dream is on the verge of drawing to an end for [Arabs] and for the Americans themselves, who [will go back to taking care of their own business]. We will witness a capital flow to the region and to the Middle East in particular, which is on the verge of an oil boom that will lead to structural changes.”
The interpretation of the [prominent New York diplomat] concludes that Russia "may change its position in terms of its tactics, but not its strategy. Therefore, Russia has taken an important decision, and this is not an immediate, temporary or urgent decision dictated by a particular event, but rather a strategic decision based on the emerging countries of the BRICS [group], which includes more than half the population of the globe. [Russia’s] goal is to form a new international pole on the ruins of American unilateralism, which underestimated the Russian [superpower] and its long term role, while attempting to overtake the emerging Chinese [superpower] at the economic and technological levels.
The analysis [presented by the diplomat] points out that "Syria has formed an appropriate field for testing the new force formed by both the Russian-Chinese “double veto" and the abortion of the UN Security Council draft resolution against Syria and the Assad regime, as a first message to Americans. The second [message] prevents both Russia and China from passing a new Arab-Western draft resolution against Syria, as is happening at present in the Security Council.”
Why Syria? Because it is of great importance, given the following facts:
First, the way Russia perceives Syria and the importance of its location is not new; rather, [this perception is the result of] a historical relationship. In this regard, a senior diplomat revealed the 400-year old will of Tsar Peter the Great, which states that "Russia must reach the Indian Ocean, even if this leads to the dismantling of the Persian Empire; and it must reach the Mediterranean, even if this leads to war with the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, we must not forget an essential factor, which is Syria's strategic importance.”
Second, some Lebanese have recently visited Russia and were told the following by Russian officials: "We reject foreign military intervention in Syria. We will not tolerate any no-fly zone nor allow the establishment of any security or humanitarian passages under any pretext. The Libyan scenario will not be repeated [in Syria]. Russia will remain a protective wall for Assad's regime in the face of any war that may be waged against it."
At the same time, a message to the same effect was delivered to the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Meanwhile, the Lebanese visitors returned from Moscow with the impression that Russia refuses Western and American management of certain influential regions under Russian control. Moscow reiterated that it will not allow Syria to be transformed into a focal point for the Americans to strike out [Russia’s] influential role in the region. Moreover, during his last visit to Moscow, Walid Jumblatt sensed Russia's discontent with what happened in Libya. The Russians had the impression that they had been hoodwinked, and they refuse to be duped a second time.
Third, currently Syria serves as a "strategic stronghold" for the Russians in the region. The Syrian port of Tartus is Russia’s only military base beyond Russian borders, which provides Moscow with a strategic position on the Mediterranean Sea , allowing it to play a prominent political role in the Middle East. Moreover, Syria serves as a foothold for the Russians as it is located on the periphery of the largest US military base in the region - that is, Israel. Syria also sits on the border of Turkey, where NATO has set up a missile shield system.
Fourth, Russia considers itself bound to protect its main interest in the region - which is Syria - especially given that a war on Damascus would seek to alter the geopolitical structure in the region and place it within the American and Israeli orbit.
In this context, one must shed light on an Israeli study published by the Egunim Journal of Strategic Studies in 1981. This study revealed that Israel’s American-backed strategy seeks to establish a new Middle East in which Israel would become a safe country surrounded by fragmented and divided communities that do not pose any threat to Israeli security or stability. In this context, one should mention the division of Egypt between Muslims and Copts; the division of Saudi Arabia between the Nejd and Hijaz; the division of Sudan between North and South; the division of Lebanon into five small states; the division of Syria between an Alawite state on the coast and Sunni states in Aleppo and Damascus; not to mention a Druze state in “Gaulinna,” [Golan] according to the Israeli expression. Under these circumstances, Russia would definitely lose its foothold in the region.
Fifth, Russia backs Syria so as to protect its own national security. Moscow fears that “Islamic democratic infection” could extend to the areas surrounding Russia, encircling it. This is not to mention the risks of Islamist dominance within Russia and other republics.
Sixth, economic considerations are the main motive behind the Russian and Chinese positions [vis-a-vis Syria]. The region is known to for its enormous oil reserves. According to a Western report, the US consumes about 24 million barrels of oil per day. The US is the world's biggest oil consumer, followed by China which consumes about 8 million barrel per day. China is likely to become the number one oil consumer in the coming years, closely followed by Russia and other countries. Thus, Russia's $100bn oil deal with Iran for a period of twenty years should not come as a surprise.
In conclusion, the Iranian and Middle Eastern oil is the main motivation behind US and Western attempts to destabilize the Middle East. However, Russia and China will stand in their way.