Moscow Is Asserting

Bipolar World Again?

Farooque Chowdhury

Ever FLaming Middle East is turning a tough spot for the  world imperialism. The region with widening conflict zones is now a formal confirmation of the end of single-polar world. Imperialism now can't dictate rules of games on its own there in the increasingly volatile area. Political developments in New York and Moscow on the last day of September carry the message.

There in New York, Mahmud Abbas, the Palestine president, told on Wednesday: Palestine deserves full membership and recognition as a state at the UN. Abbas said: "Palestine... deserves full recognition and full membership."

With tensions over holy sites in Jerusalem, the Palestinian leader said in the UN General Assembly:
Israel "leave[s] us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of these agreements, while Israel continuously violates them.

"We cannot continue to be bound by these signed agreements with Israel and Israel must assume fully all its responsibilities as an occupying power.

"We shall not resort to violence, we shall resort to peace and legal means to implement that."
Abbas called on the UN to provide international protection for the Palestinian people. With the pronouncement that Palestinian patience "has come to an end", Abbas has virtually resumed a political fight, which is powerful than futile adventurism conducted sporadically by some quarters in parts of Palestine.

As part of political fight, a September 10-voting in the UN General Assembly found the US and its seven allies against 119 countries. It's a show of US isolation on the issue of Palestine. This isolation is an annual UN show.

With the resumption of the political fight the region gets charged. Hence, assurances are also pronounced as John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said: An Israel-Palestine peace agreement is "not an impossible dream". Shortly after the declaration by Abbas, Kerry said: "It's achievable but only with pro-active, genuine efforts to reach out and address each other's concerns, to listen to each other, to figure out what is at the bottom of each other's needs and work diligently in order to try to pave the way forward." How much scope is there to "work diligently'' while the Palestine patience is coming to an end? There's also the vital element for genuine efforts: the state of US-Israel relation after the Iran nuclear deal.

In another part of the region, Russian air strikes were made in Syria's Horns and Hama provinces. With close collaboration of the Syrian military Russia struck Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria. Thus the days of arbitrary US control over all the skies over all the lands has formally come to an end in the volatile region.

In decades, it was Russia's direct military role for the first time in the region. Even during the hotly contested Cold War days, Russia, the USSR at the period, was not found in direct military engagement in the region.

Actually it is a show of precarious US manipulation capacity. The world power once arbitrarily exercised its sky-power over Iraq and a few other countries. Now, two forces—the US-led coalition and Russian air role—over Iraq and Syria are visible. It creates a setting for increased competition.

In this move, Russia has shown more maturity and capacity than the US. The Russian air strikes were approved after a request from Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. It means Russia was invited by the legal authorities of Syria, and thus Russia follows international law. The US air role over Syria is without UN mandate. The world imperialist power was not invited by Syria. Moreover, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament has unanimously approved Putin's request to use the Russian military in Syria. Its national security formed the basis of the approval.

Philip Hammond, the British foreign secretary, welcomed the Russian move. France has given conditional support to the Russian air strikes. Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, said: If the Russian air strikes "really targeted Islamic State... it is welcomed". John Laughland, Director of Studies, Institute of Democracy and Cooperation in Paris, assumes: There's "tacit support" of US to the Russian military move.

In a way, with the military moves, Putin has gained diplomatically in the region although the two European powers—the UK and France—are publicly against Russian position in Ukraine-episode. Real politics simultaneously carries a lot of complexities.

Russia has gained further as four countries—Iraq, Iran, Russia and Syria—have established an intelligence sharing center in Baghdad. The center is part of Russia's airpower role in Syria. It's also a show of the state of the US. Probably, the world power—the US—will gain fewer friends tomorrow.

Russian confidence is evident as Moscow informed Washington of the air strikes only an hour before the attack, and asked the US air force to avoid Syrian airspace during the mission.

There are other players, competition and intrigues in the region other than the declaration by Abbas and Russian air strikes. There are double games. These are ceaselessly increasing volatile situation of the region.

Iran blames Saudi Arabia for abetting the rise ol extremism while Iran is considered as an occupying force in Syria. Turkey goes for removal of al-Assad. The country with its increasing domestic problems urges to set up "safe areas within Syria", actually no-fly zones. These zones, if implemented, will bolster interventionists. Saudi Arabia feels Bashar Assad must leave office. Russia calls for a coalition to defend al-Assad. It's a new move. There's possibility of China extending support to the move by Moscow.

Turkey is more interested in fighting Kurds than IS. Gulf monarchies and Turkey are having duplicity that makes the US move against IS stumble. Saudi Arabia, it is alleged by a quarter, is financing IS and extending support to the Al Nusra Front. The US finds it difficult to move further with these allies.

Italy, a major player in Libya intervention, believes in a political solution to the war in Syria as there's "no rapid military solution". The idea—political solution in absence of rapid military solution—carries more than one meaning. Germany, France, Britain and the US indicate they would not be opposed to Assad staying in power for a transitional period, which would include defeating the IS. If the UK parliament approves, Britain will join the US in the region within a short time.

The conflict in Syria, Putin assesses, is complex. There's genuine domestic troubles at its origin; and worsened by the intervention. Russia hopes al-Assad will be flexible after elimination of the terrorist threat, and a political transition is required there. Putin indicates his preference for political reform and compromise in Syria. It is not easy now to ignore Putin in the Middle East.

In the background of this complex situation, Russian military move in the region carries far-reaching implication. Moscow is increasing cooperation with Syria and other countries in the region. It's an evidence of declining US influence. The US now can't deny Moscow's forceful presence in the region. It creates space for maneuver by countries in the region. Even, people can also gain scope in their opposition to imperialist intervention.

In the entire chapter, peoples in the region are paying price as imperialist interventions are making bloodshed and destruction the rule of the day. Increasing number of refugees and the migrant-flow is a part of intervention-rule. People's life is getting demolished. Scope for democratic struggle is facing immediate and powerful obstacles being created by imperialist intervention. The weakness in the democratic struggle is giving space to the intervention and conspiracy by anti-people forces. Boosting up democratic struggle reduces scope for imperialist intervention, and weakens anti-progressive forces. This aspect should not be missed while assessing the Russian air strikes as the strikes weaken imperialist intervention in the region.

Vol. 48, No. 20, Nov 22 - 28, 2015