Why we fight in Syria
On October 31st, 2015, Russian passenger jet Airbus A321, charter flight 7K9268, heading from the Egyptian resort Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg, crashed in the Sinai Peninsula. All 224 people on board were killed. Almost all were Russian nationals. The plane was only airborne for about 20 minutes before it crashed. The "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the crash immediately after the disaster. The "Soldiers of the Caliphate have managed to shoot down a Russian aircraft in the province of Sinai," the IS group declared. More than 220 "Crusaders" aboard were killed. The attack was an act of revenge against the Russian military intervention in Syria. Russian foreign experts have ruled out that there was a "shooting", but investigators believe that a bomb detonated aboard the aircraft and caused the crash.
The "Islamic State" terrorist organization already declared war on Russia last year. And, as a terrorist organization, the IS kills civilians and enjoys the death of civilians. Killing civilians is the essence of terrorism. Terrorists kill innocent victims in order to achieve a political objective. This also corresponds to the nature of the "Islamic State" that has nothing to do with Islam or a state. After all, the death of innocent civilians is unacceptable for a devout Muslim. However, the death of civilians is the price Russia will have to pay today and, likely, in the future for its military aid to Syria. The "Islamic State" terrorists view all Russians as enemies—not just this country’s military. On social networking sites, certain Western commentators also openly expressed glee over the plane crash.
But why does Russia provide military aid to Syria? First, this is a geopolitical conflict. The front between Atlanticists and Eurasians runs in Syria. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a political vacuum was created in the East and in the Middle East as well. There, the U.S. pursued a project focused on destroying nation-states—dubbed the "Greater Middle East Project." It even destroyed states that had behaved more or less loyal to Washington. The U.S. creates chaos to project itself as a hegemonic power. In the 1990s, Russia was weak and did not react, but in the early 2000s, it began to recover slowly. Today, Vladimir Putin has decided to actively oppose the U.S. policy of chaos in the Middle East. Russia’s military help against terrorism in Syria can be seen as an act of Eurasian geopolitics. Syria is located at the center of the battle between the representatives of a unipolar (U.S.) and a multipolar (Russia) world order.
But beyond that, we need to perceive the "Islamic State" as a direct threat to the Russian Federation. This terrorist organization is a product of American politics created to spread chaos and to provide the United States—at any time—a template for its own military intervention, as you can see by the example of Syria. However, the "Islamic State" is not only present in Iraq and Syria, but also in Central Asia. Terrorist gangs—that have the same sponsors and the same ideology as the "Islamic State" in Syria and Iraq—are also active in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan close to Russian borders. These groups also operate in the North Caucasus within the Russian Federation itself. Vladimir Putin understands quite well that this is about creating chaotic conditions using the "Islamic State" and similar terrorist groups in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
The logic behind the Russian military intervention is therefore clear. If we do not contain the U.S.-created and supported terrorism in Syria, we will soon have to fight it on our own borders and even on our own land. Syria is our external line of defense. The next line exists on the territory of the Eurasian Union and even within the Russian Federation.
Furthermore, the Russian military intervention in Syria, in contrast to the U.S.-led so-called "anti-terrorist campaign," is absolutely legitimate. Moscow cooperates closely with Damascus, whereby the Syrian government has officially requested Russian support. The Russian air force is working with the Syrian army, while the U.S.-led attacks take place against the will and despite the protests of the Syrian government. Dr. Bashar al-Assad is the legitimate and elected President of Syria, supported by more than 50 percent of the Syrian population. This means that in Syria we fight together with our Syrian allies against the expansion of the "Islamic State."
We must bear in mind what the total collapse of Syria would entail. This would automatically trigger the collapse of all other Muslim states in the region; even North Africa would be completely thrown into chaos, as we have already seen in Libya. We can, therefore, speak of a chain reaction or a domino effect in the event of Syria’s collapse. This, in turn, would mean that millions of refugees and migrants would march toward Europe, because there would be no more future for these people in total chaos.
The American-created chaos is thus directed not only against the Middle East and Central Asia, but also against Europe. The more chaos and disorder in the Middle East and North Africa, the more migrants will come to Europe. This, in turn, will lead to the destabilization of social infrastructure and, therefore, to the political paralysis on the European continent. And here we should not forget that thousands of terrorists flow into Europe as part of the migration process. Should this trend continue, and with the future arrival of 10, 20, or even 30 million immigrants coming to Europe, this would actually mean the end of Europe. The European continent would not be "Islamized" per se, nor would a "Caliphate" be built, but instead Europe would sink into total chaos and be wiped out.
Today, Russia is fighting against this development, which is in Europe's interest as well. Russia needs Europe, and Europe needs Russia. Europe's collapse is bad for Russia, and the same notion applies the other way around, even if it is not accepted by many European governments today, which are even working against it. There also is some historic continuity: in the past, Russia saw Europe as a shield against Turkish Ottoman expansionism. Europe sinking into chaos automatically meant Russia being threatened at its western and southern borders. Hence, the protection of Europe is in the interests of the Russian Federation. In order to preserve Europe from falling into chaos, today’s Russia is the shield of the European continent.
Therefore, Russia is fighting in Syria on a number of levels: we are actively taking up the fight against global and hegemonic aspirations of the U.S.; we are protecting our own national and Eurasian security interests by fighting the enemy before it can come to us; we are preserving Europe ahead of its decline because such a development would be harmful to us as well.
Prof. Alexander Dugin
This article was originally published in German language in ZUERST! news magazine.