Is the Fighting in Syria a Behind-the-Scenes Return to Cold War?

Thursday, June 16, 2011
Diplomats from Washington and Moscow have been sparring over the ongoing turmoil in Syria, reminding some of the Cold War days when the two superpowers engaged in surrogate wars and jockeyed for influence in the Middle East.
American declarations comparing the bloodshed in Syria to the situation in Libya have been seen as an attempt by U.S. officials to justify military intervention against the Assad regime. But Russia, which has maintained close ties to Syria since the end of the Cold War, has resisted all efforts by Washington to isolate Damascus diplomatically.
“Moscow has made it clear that it will not brook a resolution at the United Nations Security Council over Syria, no matter its wording or contents,” writes M. K. Bhadrakumar in the Asia Times. “It also voted against the Western move at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week to open a Syria nuclear file—similar to the Iran file—at the UN Security Council.”
Syria is a vital geographic partner for Russia. It provides the Russian navy with its only Mediterranean seaport, and losing the Assad government could leave Moscow without a base along one of the most world’s most important seas.
In the summer of 2010, Yuri Ivanov, the deputy head of the GRU, the Russian military’s spy unit, disappeared in Syria. He was last seen inspecting the building site for a Russian military base in the city of Tartus. His decomposed body washed up on a beach in Turkey.
The U.S., meanwhile, would enjoy seeing the fall of Assad and the emergence of a more moderate government towards Israel.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Syria on the Boil, US Warship in Black Sea (by M. K. Bhadrakumar, Asia Times)


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