The advocacy of war in Syria by the United States and its allies is meeting stiff escalatory resistance, with countries including Russia, China and Iran citing international law violations, regional destabilisation, and the fragility of the international economy as arguments against a military intervention.
As the drumbeat of war grew louder, Russia quietly decided to strengthen naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea close to the Syrian coastline. A Russian anti-submarine warship is now steaming towards the Mediterranean coast. The Russians made it clear that their deployments are in response to the situation surrounding Syria.
“The well-known situation shaping up in the eastern Mediterranean called for certain corrections to the make-up of the naval forces,” an unnamed source in the Russian General Staff was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Interfax. “A large anti-submarine ship of the Northern Fleet will join them [the existing Russian naval forces] over the next few days. Later it will be joined by the Moskva, a rocket cruiser of the Black Sea Fleet,” the source added.
By announcing their intentions, the Russians seemed to have reinforced the point that a conflict in Syria could quickly acquire a dangerous international dimension, as the area is already teeming with American and British warships.
On Thursday, the Iranians, masters in the art of psychological warfare, sent messages along a dual track to the western powers.
Iran’s recently elected President Hassan Rouhani counseled the U.S. and its allies to respect international law in their decision-making on Syria, which has been accused of mounting a chemical attack last week on the outskirts of Damascus.
Simultaneously, top Iranian military commanders, including chief of staff of Iran armed forces Hassan Firouzabadi, warned bluntly that they would incinerate Israel, if Syria was attacked, raising the spectre of uncontrolled regional escalation. Head of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Mohammad-Ali Jafari stressed that the U.S. would face another Vietnam-war scenario if it targeted Syria.
Persisting with its strategic partnership with Moscow since Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi was toppled and executed nearly two years ago, China has slammed the Americans for threatening Syria with a war. An editorial in China Daily, rebuked Washington for pursuing a “regime change” agenda in Syria. “Ten years ago, the U.S. and its allies sidestepped the U.N. and orchestrated a forceful regime change in Iraq on the pretext that the regime possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), this should not be allowed to happen again.” Refusing to mince its words, the daily warned that “it was high time the U.S. learned from its past mistakes and reined in its wild ideas of military intervention in yet another country”. Separately, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi reiterated that a “political resolution has, from the very beginning, been the only way out for the Syrian issue”.
The Chinese have also been highlighting the negative fall-out of the escalating Syrian crisis on the global economy. A commentary that appeared in the People’s Daily observed that, “The looming attack has already sent chills through the world economy, as global stocks tumbled on Tuesday while oil and gold prices surged to multi-month highs.”
In the western camp, the ardent advocacy of a military strike seemed to lose considerable steam by Thursday. In Britain, the opposition Labour Party seemed unconvinced about the justification of waging a war against Syria. The coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron is confronting a growing number of sceptics in parliament who do not wish to repeat the Iraq experience, when a military invasion against Baghdad materialised a decade ago on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.