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Biased reports on Russia

12:03 AM November 10, 2015

THIS REFERS to Bernard-Henri Lévy’s article “Russia’s European game in Syria” (Opinion, 10/19/15). Apparently, the article betrays the hysteria that attends the coverage of Russian actions in Syria. It is filled with hatred toward Russia and its president, and with biased accusations referenced to anonymous analysts. I wish to share some facts and issues that are routinely omitted in mainstream Western media.

Russia’s bombing of civilian facilities has become a typical example of anti-Russian propaganda, but for which no evidence has been provided yet. The same is true with alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces. On the other hand, there is no mention of the fact that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad renounced the use of chemical arms and has turned over his country’s arsenals of such arms to the international community for disposal.

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Moreover, Lévy’s claim that Russia is threatening “the Baltic states, Poland, Finland and Turkey” is ludicrous. He might as well have added our Solar System’s planets to that farfetched list.

In Syria, Moscow is defending its own security from the menace of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis), which has already announced Russia as its next target. The only force still actually resisting Isis on the ground is Syrian government troops; the so-called moderate opposition has no capacity to counteract.

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Lévy sounds like many Western intellectuals of the 1930s. At one time they showered praise on Adolf Hitler. In fact, in 1938, Time magazine chose him its “Man of the year.” Unable to identify the real peril to the civilization, they also demonized the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It is so unfortunate that such biased view and aberrant mindset are still alive.

One of Lévy’s fantasies is that Russia’s action in Syria is designed to divert attention from Ukraine. On the contrary, Russia is highly interested to focus world attention on that country to ensure the safety and security of civilians and the full implementation of the Minsk agreements that Ukraine’s president signed.

By helping Syria put an end to terrorism, Russia is protecting all countries in the region from external interference and preventing an extremist ideology from spreading further across borders, around the world. To be sure, the ultimate solution to this problem is a transparent political process based on the Geneva communiqué of June 30, 2012 and pursued under the aegis of the United Nations.

Russia’s actions are guided by the UN Charter and fundamental principles of international law. We are convinced that the fight against terrorism must be anchored on a universal legal basis, with the UN Security Council playing the key role.

Our country has come to the aid of the legitimate government of Syria upon the latter’s request and with its consent. Our opponents are quick to speculate that Russian policy is not supported by the majority of countries. Some in the Arab world even try to threaten Russia with global Sunni jihad.

Intimidating Russia is a waste of time. The highest-level meetings at the 70th UN General Assembly in New York have shown that many countries support Moscow. They do not want the Middle East’s regional security architecture destroyed and an unpredictable extremist “caliphate” in place of traditional secular states. Such a “caliphate” will never recognize international law, state borders and the values of the modern civilization. Neither Russia nor the European nations, nor countries in other continents can be safe from this threat.

One of the major concerns now is the danger of demonizing Arabs and Muslims in general in the eyes of world. At a time when Europe is agitated with the unprecedented influx of refugees, we risk facing the rise of xenophobia, anti-Islamic sentiments, and new barriers between civilizations. Isis’ actions will drive away Christians from the Middle East, and cause strifes between the Shiites and the Sunnis.

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Russia’s opponents insist that Isis is an offhoot of Kremlin’s “insistence” to keep Assad in power. Such accusations are biased and unfounded. On the contrary, external interference and the weakening of the Syrian government triggered the power vacuum that created anarchy zones which soon filled with terrorists.

The terrorists’ appetite will not decrease should Assad resign. The only force fighting terrorists effectively, the Syrian Armed Forces, will be weakened. I presume that preserving government institutions in that country is vital in effectively countering the terrorist threat, as well as in proceeding with the political transformation toward a free and secure society.

The US-led antiterror coalition appears to be ineffective not only in Syria but also in Iraq: Isis fighters are only growing in numbers. Thus, it is unclear why the United States and their allies refuse to cooperate with Russia and the Syrian Armed Forces in the fight against terror. It seems the West is trying to prevent Damask and its military from advancing countrywide and wiping terrorists off Syria’s map. Otherwise, why does the broadly advertised US-trained Syrian opposition remain inconsistent, and why does Isis continue receiving funds and arms?

By the way, Russia is being blamed for being unable to distinguish between “good” and “bad” militants or for refraining from striking Isis; and for fighting the Free Syrian Army, “moderate opposition” and even civilians in defense of the Assad regime’s interest. Not true. We suggest that critics look into the regularly updated reports of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Russia’s air operation in Syria is aimed solely at eliminating all terrorists. Armed barbarians and those notorious for executing prisoners, human trafficking, drug trafficking, shelling residential areas, preaching cultural and religious genocide—all of them are, to us, terrorists, no matter what flag they carry.

Russia calls on the international community to join a broad antiterrorist front that provides flexible coordination able to prevent casualties among civilians and ensure soonest the elimination of terrorists. Open to all anti-Isis forces, the front should include the Syrian and Iraqi militaries, Kurdish and Shia militia, and the antiterrorist opposition of Syria. We are confident that this kind of initiative could become a consolidating factor in our fight against the Isis threat and help prevent the Syrian crisis from escalating.

Ilya E. Perenkov is the press attaché of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Philippines.

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TAGS: air operation, biased, bomb, Bombing, Commentary, Middle East, opinion, Russia, security, Syria
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