Assad and al-Bashir cannot save each other

The Sudanese president’s visit to Damascus will add nothing, regardless of who sent him there, be it the Russians, the Turks or the Iranians.
Friday 21/12/2018
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) receives Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir at Damascus Airport, December 16. (SANA)
Russian agenda? Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) receives Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir at Damascus Airport, December 16. (SANA)

They really deserve each other. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir deserves Syrian President Bashar Assad and Assad deserves al-Bashir. The Sudanese president’s visit to Damascus will add nothing, regardless of who sent him there, be it the Russians, the Turks or the Iranians.

After all, what could the head of a bankrupt regime offer to a head of another bankrupt regime? Unless, of course, the Russians, who had put a plane at al-Bashir’s disposal December 16 to travel to Damascus, have something that makes them believe that it is possible to build on an illusion.

This Russian illusion is called a Syrian regime that has never had a single legitimate day of any kind since its birth.

Al-Bashir went to Damascus to lend a hand to the head of the Syrian regime, who, to stay in Damascus, gave in to all Iranian, Russian and Israeli conditions.

The issue in Syria is not about a bid for nationalism and the use of repugnant statements about Israel and its policies in the region. The issue is about an Israeli policy that explicitly protects Assad’s minority regime in Syria in exchange for its implicit acceptance of Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights.

In the end, the hullaballoo in Damascus was about two regimes that have destroyed two countries and are connected by a third one, Russia.

Russia’s problem is that it has never had a constructive role in the Middle East. What it could offer the repressive regimes in the region were only weapons to use against their own people. This is Russia’s love story with the Middle East since the days of the infamous Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union could have easily contributed to a fair settlement in the Middle East at a time when conditions for that were ripe. It chose instead to hide behind a game of non-war and non-peace, which ultimately benefited Israel.

Al-Bashir travelled to Damascus on a Russian plane and it turned out that there were two paths meeting each other. These are paths taken by al-Bashir and Assad and leading to the destruction of whatever is left of Sudan and Syria.

It is not clear what Russia wants from supporting Assad. Does it think of him as a card it could use at a certain stage? There doesn’t seem to be anyone willing to buy Russia’s Syrian card.

US officials keep reiterating that the United States is not willing to fund Syria’s reconstruction. It is becoming increasingly clear that it was Iran that had used Russia in Syria, right from the fall of 2015 when Sukhoi planes arrived at the Hmeimim Air Base near Latakia and not vice versa.

Al-Bashir will not be able to save Bashar and Bashar won’t be able to save al-Bashir. The whole matter reduces to the fact that Russia is unable to play a positive role in the Middle East.

Iran, which is seeking to sabotage the region, is taking advantage of Russia’s desire to regain some of its former role as a world’s superpower. It is this desire that sent al-Bashir to Damascus and is driving Russia forward head first.

That’s all there is. Whoever genuinely wishes to bring life back to Syria will not hesitate to admit that it is impossible to build on a regime headed by Assad, a regime that believes in fantasies such as Iran is a regional power that can play the role of the dominant state in the region and that Omar al-Bashir has become the embodiment of the concept of Arabism.