By Andrey A. Pritsepov : –
Having read your leader comments “Russian airstrikes won’t solve crisis” from 30th September and “Effort needed to rein in lone wolf” from 2nd October I cannot help but notice that they represent a U-turn compared to your previous instalments (for instance, from 17th July “Conservatives made to look very bad again” and from 21st July “PM needs to do more to beat IS”).
Two months ago the Scotsman among others elaborated that: “There is no doubt that IS is a horrific and barbaric organisation that poses a clear and present danger to everyone it deems an enemy, and that amounts to just about everyone who is not IS. Airstrikes against this menace [Islamic State] are to be welcomed, in fact, there is a compelling case to increase military action against it by the alliance of nation ranged against it” and maintained that “Islamic State is a poison and there does have to be action taken against it. That action needs to be on a number of fronts, including military strikes against the organisation in both Iraq and Syria”.
Having quite passionately argued for a military intervention to handle this very menace you now conclude that “Russian airstrikes in Syria have heightened international tensions to new levels” and predict that “a period of worrying instability appears to be in prospect”, calling for “wide international pressure” to be applied to my country in order to stop the actions you called for.
There must be a logical explanation for such a paradigm shift: something very dramatic should have occurred during the past two months that made you change your narrative so drastically. In fact, it has. Inefficiency of 420 days long aerial campaign against IS militants with more than 7 000 sorties, 2000 in Syria alone, has sparked acute refugee crisis in Europe, contributed to vast expansion of IS held territories in Syria and Iraq, allowed the reign of terror with further inhumane atrocities and sufferings of civilians, leaving Russia with no other option, but to intervene militarily to fight “IS menace” now, before it is too late. To maximize the efficiency of this surge we are not acting unilaterally, but in close coordination with countries involved, providing air support to local ground forces in their advance against IS in Syria.
The media campaign to misrepresent our actions came as no surprise. In fact, it had started even before Russian planes took off in Syria with quite predictable “unjustified stories” of civilian casualties and wrong jihadists being hit in the wrong places. These prime-time speculations seem to overshadow media coverage of even justified, real-life news, including the unspeakable tragedy of patients burnt alive in an airstrike against MSF hospital in Kunduz that still awaits to be commented by the Scotsman.
You rightly agree with what Russia was saying from Day One, namely that the conflict in Syria is a complex one. The other half of our arguments is that only people of Syria should decide its future and that Syrians deserve every international support in dealing with terrorists and creating necessary preconditions for democratic elections.
Advocating against Russian airstrikes aimed at terrorists in Syria would not put an end to this conflict, quite the contrary. Now when there is so much at stake, it’s high time to set aside political grandstanding and focus on sustainable and long-lasting solution, which can only be achieved by joining forces to eradicate terrorist groups in Syria and reaching by means of multilateral diplomacy a sound political solution that could secure Syria’s future as stable, secular and democratic country. Russia is actively involved in efforts to meet both these goals and is open for cooperation.
(article by Andrey A. Pritsepov, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh, published in The Scotsman)