By Sulaiman Badamasi (Mahir)
Russia of today is not the same as Russia yesterday. Russia used to be the Soviet Union, a superpower that sometimes acted with the West. The war of 1973, when the Zionists wanted both sides of the conflict taken to a draw and in 1954when Russia (Soviet Union) transferred the Crimean Oblast to Ukraine have said it all. Now, it is a post-Soviet Union Russia who toiled when the Soviet Union sagged, but within the breath-span of twenty-something years has grown now to a grandeur position.
The Western world has been ruling over humankind for the past 300 years or more, changing regimes worldwide, especially in the south and central America, which the famous Monroe Doctrine described as “America’s Backyard”. The West has been changing regimes after regimes all over the region. But have we ever asked why they have never changed the regime in Venezuela? America has done everything it could to change the Venezuelan government but to no avail because this can only be achieved through military intervention, and any move of such would mean facing Russia. They do not want to confront Russia. NOBODY WANT TO FACE RUSSIA because Russia is not Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, and of course, not Iraq.
What seemed to have convinced the world further to accept Russia’s predatory position was the tremendously dangerous step it took to intervene in Syria. This could have led to a nuclear war. Russia also took the world by surprise in 2014 when it took over or took back(?) Crimea in just two weeks. It seems like Russia is defeating the West in silence and stylishly repositioning itself back to the Soviet Union’s throne.
For the West to reduce the margin, it swiftly paid back with a regime change in Ukraine in 2014 in what was termed as “The Revolution of Dignity”, which saw the impeachment/replacement of the then Ukrainian (of course Russian loyalist) elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, and Petro Poroshenko (pro-West) became the president, who immediately began with leading the Russo-Ukrainian war in February 2014.
After three months, he forbade any cooperation with Russia in the military sphere and later signed the “Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement in June 2014.” Five months later, in president Poroshenko’s speech to the new parliament in November 2014, Poroshenko stated, “we’ve decided to return to the course of NATO integration” because “the nonalignment status of Ukraine proclaimed in 2010 couldn’t guarantee our security and territorial integrity”. Russia perceived all these, coupled with the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych, as a series of threats right at its closest border.
Why does Russia detest/is against/is afraid of Ukraine’s alignment with NATO?
If Ukraine becomes a NATO member state, then Russia would have NATO on its very border, which means it will have its military bases a few distances away from Russian borders, where missiles could hit Moscow in minutes. Hence Russia does not seem to accept this security option. It could be said that Russia does not want to invade Ukraine because a full invasion MIGHT provoke a military response from the West (only time could tell, though). But certainly, all parties involved (Russia, Ukraine, and the West) hope the chaos ends through diplomatic means rather than war. Maybe Russia has a military strike as the only option for now?
Territorial control and elimination of perceived possible dangers around borders have become a norm or a widely practised approach by states nations. Let us digest in the following to shade more light:
Cuban Missile Crisis/Missile Scare: when the Soviet Union started installing nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1961 after reaching an agreement with Fidel Castro of Cuba, the Kennedy administration decided that this was too big a security threat to be contained. They put a “quarantine” (a station where weaponry logistics were searched) so that no nuclear missile could be shipped and demanded that all missiles in Cuba be taken back to the Soviet Union.
Syria and Israel: with Russia and Iran as Syrian friends and Israel sitting just 569.17 kilometres away from the Syrian border, it is not a surprise if Israel and her friends (America, Saudi, and Turkey) feel threatened or expect that the worst happens from Israel’s neighbourhood. The military campaign that aimed at toppling the Russia and Iran backed Assad’s government by the Saudi, Turkish and American backed rebel group, which began in March 2011 as an anti-government protest and later escalated to a full-scale war, could be understood as an effort to eliminate an enemy’s friend whose territory can be used to attack an immediate neighbour. Could America and Saudi afford to lose Israel?
Muslim Brotherhood and Israel: when Mohammed Morsi (may Allah have mercy on him) was sworn in as the first democratically elected president of Egypt on 30th June 2012, he expressed dissatisfaction with the country’s 1979 policy which declared that it stands as a mediator between Israel and Palestine and determined to reset his country’s orientation to one of active support, not for a ‘self-governing authority and ‘autonomy’ in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but the attainment of an independent sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the right of the Palestinian refugees to return.
In Morsi’s one year in office before his removal through a coup d’etat, he ordered the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah Crossing, the only gateway that connects Palestinians to the outside world. This means Palestinians can travel any time without really passing through strict measures imposed on them by the Israeli government, and different kinds of support could reach them without obstacles. Trade began to flourish between Palestine and Egypt. The Israeli siege on the Palestinian land was eased. He became the first Egyptian president to declare rejection of Israel’s assault on Palestine since 1979. Israel and her friends felt threatened by the closest neighbour, and the result was his forceful ouster, imprisonment, the unjust killing of his supporters. The coup that ended Morsi’s regime has not been justified yet. Why was it done then? To eliminate a nearby perceived enemy.
Saudi and Houthi: the Houthi rebel group, which champions Yemen’s Zaidi Shia followers, took over Sana’a in 2014 and forced the then Yemeni president, Abdurrabbu Mansur Hadi, in March 2015, to flee the country. To many people, “a rebel group has taken over Yemen,” yet to Saudi and her allies, “Iran has succeeded in extending its proxy-war/proxy influence to the Saudi border.” There is no need to emphasise that implication on Saudi, thanks to the firing of ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia and UAE. Swiftly came a fierce joint reaction from Saudi-led coalition of eight(?) countries with logistics and intelligence support from America and France with Iran backing the Houthi rebels leading to the ongoing multilateral civil war.
Turkey and ISIS in Iraq: another interesting episode in the quest to defy near-border threats is having Turkey, a NATO member-state, fighting ISIS in Syria while ignoring the danger that the same ISIS poses in Iraq. Turkey has so far chosen to sit out the war to allow ISIS to fight the Kurdish militia group in Iraq. Turkey considers the Kurdish militia who craves a breakup to carve out its own country, Kurdistan, a more harmful enemy. Kurdistan encompasses southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), and northern Syria (Western Kurdistan). Some definitions also include parts of southern Transcaucasia. Certain Kurdish nationalist organisations seek to create an independent nation-state consisting of some or all of these areas with a Kurdish majority, while others campaign for greater autonomy within the existing national boundaries. Do you see? The same struggle to protect territorial integrity is seen at its peak here.
Iraq invasion and Iran: this is the same reason that encouraged Iran’s interest in Iraq after the US and its allies removed and killed Saddam Hussein. Despite having a not-so-friendly relationship with the West, Iran was in total support of the strike against Iraq (Saddam) in March 2003 when the US, under Gorge W. Bush, led a coalition of the UK, Poland, and Australia to invade Iraq.
This has remained part of history for centuries and means that Russia is not necessarily fighting Ukraine as Ukraine but trying to send a clear signal to whoever wants to near her border in any form of disguise.
Will the war be taken further? I do not think Russia could be smart enough to launch a full-scale war yet. However, if it continues, there is a slim chance of having NATO respond militarily, which could further lead to an unimaginable end. It is to the world’s knowledge that if external forces intervene to support Ukraine, it could mean facing Russia, China, North Korea, Serbia, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Belarus, etc.
Are we about to witness another World War? We pray for the best.
Sulaiman Badamasi (Mahir) sent this article via email@example.com.