The Russian Intervention Crisis over Syria, the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the Islamic State Threat, and numerous other imminent threats are demanding so much attention from world leaders that they cannot give global initiatives the proper attention they need. Just as the victims of poverty and starvation do not concern themselves with retirement planning and long-term health issues, a world on the verge of war cannot focus on more constructive initiatives to address economic development, climate change, crime, terrorism, and nuclear arms. In accordance, world leaders should delay the implementation of the Iranian Nuclear Deal until the impact of the agreement can be reassessed.
Given the locations of Russia’s airstrikes make it easy to conclude Russia’s intervention in Syria involves the targeting of Western-backed rebels in an apparent attempt to force the West to support the Assad regime, Iran’s decision to support Russia’s military campaign and the Assad Regime raises new concerns about the Iranian Nuclear Deal. Not only is releasing up to $150 billion in Iranian assets at a time when Iran is undermining efforts to suppress the Islamic State and stem the cause of the Syrian Refugee Crisis a foolish idea, those funds could also be directed to help alleviate the pressure from Western sanctions on Iran’s partner Russia, which would also undermine efforts to address the Ukraine Crisis.
Political fighting within the United States has long made the passage of the Iranian Nuclear Deal an uncertainty while it appears part of the agreement may well be illegal. Delaying the implementation of the Iranian Deal, therefore, does not necessarily depend on the US withdrawing support for the agreement. Because European nations, as well as other world powers, can choose to reverse their own sanctions against Iran, European leaders must be convinced that there is a need to delay implementation until the impact of the Deal on the Syrian Refugee Crisis, Islamic State threat, and the Ukraine Crisis can be properly assessed.
Although Europeans face a far more imminent threat from the crises emanating out of Syria, Vladimir Putin has offered the world a seemingly pragmatic solution with Russia’s intervention in Syria. Framed as an effort to bolster Western goals against the Islamic State and to crush the instability, which is driving so many crises, via the suppression of Assad’s enemies, e.g. those who dissent, Russian intervention in practice is likely to be more of a hindrance than a help. Not only are Russia’s efforts to prop up the Assad regime preventing a transition away from the collapsing government that started the Syrian Civil War by bombing its own people, Russia’s targeting of Western-backed rebels is eliminating the better alternatives to Assad while pressuring more moderate factions to join forces with extremists.
Pragmatism over idealism has long been a characteristic of the Russian and American Peoples. The British Empire and other European Colonial Powers once pursued pragmatism over their values, thus Putin’s pragmatic argument is very appealing to Western cultures. The regrettable truth is, however, that it has always been pragmatic to forgo ideals like human rights and democracy for the sake of stability. Where European Powers ruled their colonies with brutal oppression, the United States later betrayed its democratic principles to embrace the stability of dictatorships in the Middle East and elsewhere. Nations like Iraq suffer from sectarian violence today due to European powers arbitrarily creating nations where ethic tribes once ruled while the Arab Spring Revolutions and the destabilizing responses of governments resulted from the oppressive nature of Western-backed dictatorships.
Consequently, choosing Russia’s supposedly pragmatic approach to Syria over ideals can have very serious consequences. By indirectly supporting Russia’s campaign in Syria through the Iranian Nuclear Deal at this time, Europeans risk creating far greater long-term threats to the Middle East. Should Iran choose to continue to pursue nuclear arms, implementing the Iranian Nuclear Deal at this time will not do anything to prevent it from happening, especially if Russia is going to protect Syria and Iran from Western intervention. Implementing the Deal at this time would, however, strengthen Iran while sending the wrong message to the Middle East. Even if Russia’s campaign somehow helps stabilize Syria in the end, Western collusion will only undermine relations with Middle Eastern revivals of Assad and boost anti-Western sentiments among the Peoples of the Muslim World. The Iranian Nuclear Deal must be shelved.
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