Both in Syria and eastern Ukraine people have mounted a courageous stand against a determined assault by the West, proving that in the last analysis the desire for freedom, dignity, and justice can never be denied.
More significantly, the people of Syria and eastern Ukraine have succeeded in exposing the hypocrisy of those who peddle abstract concepts of democracy and sovereignty while actively working to undermine and subvert them.
The evacuation of Homs by rebel fighters in Syria recently marks a significant milestone in the life and death struggle for the future of the country, and the wider region, that has been raging these past three years. While the rebels have not yet been completely defeated, it is clear by now that the Syrian government of Bashar Assad is no longer in danger of being toppled, which given that it seemed inevitable two years ago constitutes a major turnaround and transformation in its fortunes.
As he approaches a presidential election in June, the Syrian leader is entitled to be commended for the courage he has displayed in keeping the country together in the face of huge external pressure from the West and a brutal foe inside Syria. The latter is dominated by Sunni jihadists from outside the country and funded by the Saudis, Qataris, and aided by Turkey and Western powers, which in 2014 would appear to have trouble deciding whether the ideology of Sunni fundamentalism and extremism should be harnessed as a proxy to help advance its interests, as in Syria, or fought against as a threat to its interests, as in Afghanistan.
What Syria has endured and withstood would have broken three countries by now. The abyss into which Iraq and Libya have fallen in similar circumstances was a fate that seemed all but assured when it came to Syria. Over the past three decades the West has treated national sovereignty as a gift bestowed according to their geopolitical interests, rather than the inalienable right of every nation, and Syria as a pole of resistance to US hegemony in the Middle East had long existed in the crosshairs of Western intervention.
But the Syrian people, Syrian Arab Army, and Syrian government have proved resolute in their determination to resist the Western-supported chaos that has engulfed their country, and to stand firm in the face of one of the most brutal and savage conflicts of recent times.
Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah have also played an indispensable role in standing with its Arab ally. Married to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine – a crisis which, as with Syria, is in large part fueled by the West’s determination to extend its writ – Syria is currently the front line in a wider geopolitical struggle over either the continuation of a Washington-led unipolar world in which the US and its allies dominate, or a multipolar alternative in which Russia, China, and the emerging economies of the Global South enjoy equal rights on the world stage.
Meanwhile, people throughout eastern Ukraine have just reasserted their democratic rights that were openly and flagrantly violated by an illegal coup in Kiev back in February – a coup staged by a mob with the full backing of the West and which saw neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists playing a central role in a part of the world where fascism has deep historical and cultural roots.
The attempt by Western media and Western ideologues to minimize the role of fascism in the ongoing crisis and conflict in Ukraine has been morally reprehensible, if not instructive. The same champions of Western imperialism today are the natural successors of those who failed to meet the threat of fascism in Europe in the 1930s, beginning with the Spanish Civil War with the policy of non-intervention that gave a green light to Hitler and Mussolini, leading inexorably to the Second World War and the deaths of 60 million people.
Parallels between Spain in 1936 and Ukraine today are impossible to discount. In Spain the cause of the conflict was the usurpation of democracy, just as with the current crisis and conflict in Ukraine. And in both Spain in the 1930s and Ukraine today, Russia was and is the only European power to stand with those whose democratic rights were undermined.
The West has blood on its hands in Syria and Ukraine. In pursuit of its wider geopolitical objectives – in other words global hegemony – it is willing to unleash carnage and chaos on an unimaginable scale. We only have to consider the most recent disasters to befall the people of Iraq and Libya for evidence of this.
Arriving at an understanding of the stakes involved in both Syria and Ukraine means resisting the temptation to view them in isolation. Both are inextricably linked, part of a geopolitical struggle for the future of the world. We also see less intense elements of the same struggle erupting in the South China Sea over China and Japan’s disputed claim over territory, and in South America, where a US backed opposition remains determined to undermine the legacy of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and where Cuba continues to struggle for the right to be independent and free from US domination.
The point is that the struggle for human progress waged and ultimately lost in Spain in the 1930s is the same struggle we are witnessing taking place today in Syria and Ukraine. Seven decades on, if the Spanish Civil War teaches us anything it is that if you are neutral when it comes to injustice, you are siding with the oppressor.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.