China and Russia to counter Western influence

Vetoed by Moscow and Beijing has caused widespread outrage in the Arab and Western capitals and both countries are now trying to defuse criticism.

The rejection of the draft resolution supported by the Arab League primarily reflects the will of Moscow and Beijing to prevent Western intervention in the Libya model, analysts said.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that the draft resolution was not balanced because it formulated demands to government and Syrian security forces, but with very little elements on the opposition.

An argument echoed by his Chinese counterpart saying that the text is not likely to ease tensions which have lasted for eleven months in the country.

Sergei Lavrov is expected to visit Damascus with director of intelligence, Mikail Fradkov. In a statement Sunday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the two men try to convince the Syrian president to compromise.

Asked Monday after talks with his Bahraini counterpart in Moscow, Sergei Lavrov would not specify the message to Bashar al-Assad.

He simply repeated that Russia urged the Syrian regime to adopt democratic reforms, while accusing some opponents to use the protest movement for “regime change” through violence.

In Beijing, the People’s Daily, organ of the Communist Party, wrote that the recent examples in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate that the error would be a forced change of regime in Damascus.

For Russia, the challenge is to defend its interests in Syria, with which it is linked by arms contracts worth several billion dollars that fuel the Russian military-industrial complex. Syria also hosts on its Mediterranean coast the only Russian naval base outside the borders of the former Soviet Union.

“The goal of Russia is twofold: to save what can be saved from a shipwreck of the Assad regime and contain Western influence on its most important ally in the Arab world,” said Shashank Joshi, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute, a British military think tank.

If that fails, Russia runs the risk of losing all influence in Syria dominated by opponents of the Assad regime.

“If Russia had supported the resolution, it could preserve its base and even some contracts,” said military analyst Alexander Golts.

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