Friday, October 12, 2012

Why is Russia Such a Strong Supporter of the Assad Regime in Syria?

Russian sailors at the Russian naval base in Tartus, Syria 
With the recent forced landing in Ankara by the Turkish Air Force of a Syrian civilian air liner that was suspected of also carrying Russian weapons for the Assad regime, the issue of Russia’s support for Syria has been thrown into stark relief.  I have a number of theories for why the Russians are such ardent supporters of the Assad regime:

1)   The central principle the Russians oppose any outside intervention in Syria is sovereignty, which could be defined as the authority of each state to determine affairs on its own territory without interference from the outside world.  The Russians believe that each state's control over its own internal affairs is the only thing standing in the way of domination by strong states over weaker ones.  Of course, Russia’s support for absolute sovereign authority does not extend to states in the former CIS such as Georgia. In Georgia, the Russians have recognized the independence of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and S. Ossetia, thereby essentially dismantling the sovereign state of Georgia.  Russia’s ultimate fear, of course, is that the principle of “humanitarian intervention” which they see the West espousing could some day be used as a justification for intervening in Russia in some fashion as well.

2)   The Russians see the West pursuing its’ own geopolitical interests in Syria, in the context of the ongoing “cold war” war between President Bashar al-Assad's regime and its’ allies Iran, and Hezbollah, and its opposition of Turkey, the US, the European Union, and rich Persian Gulf states.  Of course, underlying this conflict is the Sunni-Shiite battle in the region, a clash which we have long argued is fundamental to understanding the Middle East.

3)   Finally, we must consider pure geopolitics here.  Russia has a large naval base in the Syrian port city of Tartus, which is Russia’s only port in the Mediterranean.  While there is now doubt Russia’s military power has declined precipitously since the Soviet Union fell apart, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian establishment are determined to reclaim Russia’s staus as a force in world affairs, and certainly they are loathe to lose their Tartus stronghold.

Tartus, Syria - location of Russia's only Mediterranean naval base


  1. Well I was reading this blog, I've nothing to do with Syria and Russia. Though not relevant to this specific blog, but after all it can/will effect all the world- Who is going to be next President of USA?

    I hope you'll cover it in some of your blog.
    Thank You