By Ollie Richardson
Russia’s reaction to the recent Iran-Israel (mostly verbal) sparring has provoked a multitude of reactions on social media. Some criticise Moscow for being “passive” and “not being firm enough”, some think that retaliating to Israel’s petty attacks is a zero-sum game, and others have some notions of patience but have a pessimistic outlook in general. In order to separate the wheat from the chaff concerning this issue it is important to first become acquainted with what the Russian senator Konstantin Kosachev recently said on this topic.
His first point is in the context of the current state of affairs in Syria, military exchanges in general have a rippling effect. This can be reduced down to meaning economic effects. For example, whenever Turkey shelled Kurdish positions and captured towns from the YPG, the Lira exchange rate wobbled. And when America launched the tomahawks at Syria the stock markets in general went into a bit of a panic. However, any situation where Israel or Iran is directly attacking their respective enemy’s military positions is simply catastrophic not only for local economies, but also for projects of a wider scale (Eurasian Union, SCO, BRICS, etc). It is important to grasp that the consequences of such actions outlive the time it takes to carry out the actions themselves. For example, the last 4 years of sheer insanity in Ukraine has cost the country a minimum of 50 years. And I emphasise – minimum. In reality generations are now being scrapped.
His second main point is that Syria shelling Israel’s positions in the Golan Heights in such a way as they did over 24 hours ago hasn’t happened since 1973. I.e., these conflict happens in waves, there isn’t a sudden tsunami. It is regulated by the US-Russia (USSR) standoff – also known as the “great game”. In addition, Kosachev also states that currently the conflict is taking place inside the Syrian borders. I.e., Neither Iran nor Israel can afford to raise the stakes any higher. Both Rouhani & Netanyahu have their respective domestic political situations to take into account. This means that should one side overstretch themselves, the enemy can strike a blow in the rear. For Iran this means that Israel/Saud can mobilise the fifth column, which is something we saw in January of this year. For Israel it means, for example, that the Houthis can send stronger signals to Riyadh or that Hezbollah can make more intense preparations for any future war with Tel Aviv.
His final point is that nobody needs such an aggravation in general, not even Israel (because they would lose in the long run). Of course, Israel will keep on trying (in waves) to provoke a strong reaction from Iran, but it simply will not work. Why? In order to answer this one must refer to another question: we hear the word “multipolarity” a lot, but what does it actually mean? Well seemingly it means defending ones own territorial integrity (domestic economy), with the help of any strategic allies. This on a larger scale means the rolling back of globalisation. In the past the author of these lines outlined the core concept of “multipolarity” by giving the real example of the S-400. And now Iran and Syria are economically operating in sync with Russia and China, especially in ditching the dollar.
The main problem is that those who don’t like Russia’s position – not wanting to upset Iran or Israel – suggest instead to rush into a wide conflict like a bull in a china shop. It’s very easy to start wars, but what about stopping them? In reality, the social media “experts” who demand action exhibit a loss of perspective so much so that it is seemingly forgotten that a tomorrow will come. But f*ck it, who cares what happens later, right? “Bomb Israel NOW! If Putin doesn’t do it, he is WEAK!”
As was correctly said on Facebook in response to what Kosachev said – “if diplomacy was so easy, everybody would be doing it”. And here is the thing – not everybody is doing it. Not everybody is willing to be responsible for the future of millions of people and to be held accountable when things don’t quite go according to plan.
Netanyahu was present during the Immortal Regiment march in Moscow, and then later that night he fired dozens of missiles at Syria. For some people this means that Putin fell asleep at the wheel. For others it means that (geo)politics is very complicated and almost like rocket science. Russia knew beforehand that Israel would bomb Syria on the night of May 9th. Some say that Putin told Bibi that Russia will not interfere in Israel’s bombing of Syria. And indeed Russia did not. Not directly, anyway. Instead Russia uses the Syrian Arab Army to do it, in accordance with international law. “But that means Russia allows Israel to bomb Syria” – a frequently read phrase on social media. The answer is no, Russia doesn’t “allow” anything. Moscow works taking into account that a) there will be a tomorrow, and b) the interests of the Russian nation comes first. And it is this that social media “experts” don’t like – that it’s possible that Russia won’t shed 27 million people for Syria like the USSR did over 70 years ago. It is a fact that the stakes back then and today are not the same. The existence of Russia isn’t under immediate threat today (quite the contrary, actually).
The reason that Russia can afford itself such a position vis-a-vis the Iran-Israel conflict is because it has the tools (military, economic, diplomatic, etc) to implement it. But it took nearly 20 years to re-acquire such tools that Gorbachev and Yeltsin scrapped for a few dollars. Yes, it sounds crazy, right? How can Russia appease both Iran and Israel at the same time? Well that’s the reality, and that’s why Putin is such a remarkable politician and diplomat. If there is a choice between pushing for peace and pushing for more war, why pursue the latter?
In the end, it’s not surprising that “pro-Russian” Westerners aren’t able to digest Russia’s “passive” policy in the Iran-Israel conflict. The Russian mentality simply isn’t the same. Winning WW2 at the expense of losing 27 million people is an experience unique to Russians. Finally, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Russia has leverage over Israel – delivering the S-300 to Damascus and the creation of a Palestinian State (putting Turkey in checkmate has a wide range of benefits), and the speed at which the delivery happens and this State is created can be accelerated or slowed down, depending on the actions of Tel Aviv. Whilst the S-300 may not be delivered in 2018 (Syria’s air defences must be fully upgraded first), concerning a Palestinian State it’s not a question of “if” it will be created, but “when”.
If the penny still hasn’t dropped concerning this topic, then please read this.
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