Why Poke a Bear?

As I’m writing this, I try to get updated on what’s going between the US and Russia about Syria. I follow American and Russian news sites, I asked people to update me if they hear something on foreign news. Im trying to make a sense of it all.

I think there is a problem in the west. That problem is a lack of understanding of what Russia is, what it isn’t, what are Russian interests and what is the Russian policy. Im by no means an expert about Russia but I try to stay informed about the world and the middle-east as much as possible.

It is no secret that for over a century the Middle-East was a playground of sorts for the world superpowers. Bringing their disagreements and conflicts to another part of the world. Fighting for influence, resources, connections and presence. The struggles for connections, presence and ties with the local players is still going on in different forms in the 21st century. It’s also not a secret that Russia has a stake in what is going on in Syria.

And now there are tensions surrounding Syria. Assad is being blamed for an alleged chemical attack in Douma. The west claims the attack happened, while Russia claims there aren’t any evidence of it happening. The timing of the alleged attack is also weird, since pro-Assad forces defeated and made Jaish Al-Islam, a militia that cooperated with Al-Qaeda affiliated militia during the war, pulled-out. After achieving a victory, why would Assad decide to use Checm attack on the people over there? Im not saying it isn’t a possibility that Assad or some rogue general ordered such an attack, dictators can pull some very stange moves and that guy in particular isn’t a real example of reason or normalcy.

And people should think about it because this alleged chem attack is used as a reason for an attack in Syria. And with Russia having a stake at the civil war, and their support for Assad they already said they will not allow an attack against Assad forces. Moreover, the are so many groups operating in Syria right now with dangerous weapon and bloodlust that should be stopped. Attacking Assad forces will just evacuate the arena for others, be it Jaish Al-Islam, Al-Nusra, IS or whoever is left.

A skeptic might challenge and ask “Well, what about claims of an IAF air strikes against Iran and Hezbollah operatives”? I might not have a great answer for that, but first of all those are 3rd parties, they pose a direct threat to Israel and everyone knows it, and there is an alleged coordination between Israel and Russia about those issues. So, even in an alleged involvment, there are ways to deal with it.

But it seems like people want to poke the russian bear on purpose on this one. I don’t know what are the reasons the west want to attack Syrian bases, maybe it’s about Syria, maybe about something else. But rising the tensions with Russia serves no clear purpose. And it didn’t start today. Russia was blamed for killing a former-spy in the UK. Russia is blamed for interfering with elections in the US. Russia is constantly portrayed as the source of bad things. But honestly what does the average westerner know about Russia or Russians?

I hope the situation de-escalate soon. There is no need for another war in the middle-east and Im sure the world doesn’t want to be dragged to a useless world-war. I propose that the UN will appoint an investigative team with representative of different countries to check the claims for use of chemical weapons, and than following the results of this checks decide if there is a need for any further investigations or other actions to be taken. And for now, everyone should keep their guns low.

About the Author
Dov Trachtman is an Israeli political analyst and cultural critic.
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