Russia and Syria
by David Satter, Senior Fellow, FPRI
Reviewed byWilliam P. Kiehl, Ed. D., Contributing Editor, American Diplomacy
David Satter, a senior fellow at FPRI, former Moscow correspondent of the Financial Time,s and writer for the Wall Street Journal, is a prolific and knowledgeable specialist on Russia. His work has been reviewed in these pages earlier (http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/item/2012/0106/iar/iar04_looming.html), and his realistic and sobering views on contemporary Russian domestic and foreign policies are a welcome relief from some of the more unrealistic expectations of the Obama administration’s “reset” policy.
This article on Russia’s contemporary relations with Syria and its long-standing support of the Assad regimes (father and son) points out that in Russia’s view, support to Syria’s despicable dictatorship is in Russia’s national interests. Russia sells a great many arms to Syria, which is its only reliable client among the Arab countries and may be as important a reason as its “national vanity” in rebuffing the U.S. and the West’s dominance in the Middle East. Clearly Vladimir Putin has determined that standing up to the West in almost any pretext plays well domestically. And the concept of a regime appearing weak against a restive population is not one that Mr. Putin would like to see among his client states or indeed in his own backyard.
Satter concludes that any hope for Russian cooperation with the West over Syria is based on America’s “misconceived ‘reset’ policy.” Regrettably, the current administration does not appear to have many other options in dealing with this past and future rival.