by Nasir Khan
In his paper Luis Lazaro Tijerina fills in much-needed information to understand Russian and Syrian relationship. While discussing the salient aspects of the relationship, first, between the Soviet Union and Syria and, then, after the fall of the Soviet Union, between Russia and Syria, the author has provided a sound historical overview of the developments. To understand the present civil war in Syria in a broader historical context, his paper is of utmost importance.
In his presentation, the author has referred to an impressive, interesting material and factors in analysing a complex political situation. Syria is an Arab country and its political and social culture is shaped by many factors.
It has its ancient historical roots including the Roman rule but after the Arab conquest of Syria from the Byzantine emperor the country became a part of the expanding Arab Empire under the Caliphs. After the First World War the Ottoman Empire came to an end. Western powers who emerged victors established their colonial over under the fiction of the ‘Mandatory system. France took his share: Syria and the Lebanon.
In 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia brought into existence a new political system. Under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin the right to self-determination of the colonized people and support to the struggling masses to liberate themselves from the Western colonial rule became important pillars of the Soviet state policy.
It was in this context, that the Soviet relations with Syria grew during and after the Second World war. The author has quite fairly outlined the Soviet policies towards the Middle East under Stalin. He also shows the role of the present Russian leader Putin towards Syria and his objectives in supporting the Syrian government.
The present civil war has played havoc with this once-prosperous and an old-civilised country. There are numerous factors both national, regional and international involved in the imbroglio.
The Assad family, first the father and now his son, are more like the hereditary kings of Syria. But again, here we are discussing an Arab country where democracy as understood in modern political thought and practice has no roots. For kings and despots in the Middle East, political power and luxurious life-styles are the most important things; the rest is empty talk.
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