Russia could win!

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi

The Russian decision to withdraw from Syria and President Vladimir Putin’s condolence call to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan over the latest Ankara terrorist attack, are steps in the right direction. More positive ones down this road would make it possible for us to head East!

We need to see Russia siding with the Syrian people, not their butchers. More pressure on their friends in Tehran and Damascus to accept Security Council resolutions will certainly help. The Soviet Union won our appreciation when it stood with Palestinians rights and defended their cause.

Accommodating regional powers, like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, and allied countries like GCC states, Jordan, Yemen and Sudan, will more than compensate for losing a rouge nation, like Iran, and a failed state, like the Syrian regime.

Not that Russia would necessary sacrifice its strategic footing and interests in Syria. Taking the right side now and betting on the right horse would win the gratitude of the Syrian people and their allies. Therefore, a future government may honor such interests — and more. What Russia could make in a stable, rebuilding country, is much more than what it could salvage in a burned out, divided, wild jungle.

What has stood between Russia and the rich and promising Muslim World of 1,500 billion people was past and present miscalculated adventures, such as the Afghani and Syrian quagmires. Now that Russia is rethinking and revising its stands and behaviors, the doors could open to our hearts and minds.

What is helping Russia is US’s grave mistakes. Instead of building on the historical achievements and alliances, the US administration seemed to be taking off from the Mideast towards the Far East and South America and turning its back on traditional allies, while cementing relations with the region’s troublemakers — Israel and Iran.

There is always those rare historical moments, when players break away from past convictions and doctrines, making new partners, and starting new journeys. It is during such moments, great minds make smart moves, stand on the right side of history and make their fortunes.

The Arab countries were long played by USA — creating “Creative Chaos,” supporting “Arab Spring,” and authorizing Iran to finish what is left standing. Now the Arab tiger is awakening. We decided to get out of our quagmires, and find our way out to a better and freer future. United, we started to change enforced realities in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere. We are rethinking alliances and partnerships. At this moment in history, we need more solid, honest and steadfast friends.

Like America, we are heading East and South. Russia, China, Japan, India, and the Asian Tigers have a lot to offer. So is Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia, in the Southern hemisphere.

Just imagine the sheer size of a Common Islamic Market and a NATO-like, Islamic Military Alliance, led by powerhouses like Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Contemplate the raw power of 57 Muslim countries, spread in three major continents — Asia, Africa and Europe — with their regional and intercontinental allies.

Our neighbors, Russia, India, China, Thailand, South Africa and Ethiopia, may not be Muslim countries, per se, but they do have huge — and rising — Muslim minorities that amount to hundreds of millions. They make logical and natural partners to the Muslim world. It makes more perfect historical, geographical and cultural sense than it is with some of our traditional Western friends who think we are too low for their height!

I believe it is time for us to seriously and strategically move in new directions. Exploring new Russia is certainly one promising option. Let’s find more about what we have in common. Besides having 23 million Muslims, Russia is essentially an Eastern country that is more of a neighbor than USA. They are technologically advanced, with vast human and natural resources. This is a country we could do business with.

Similarly, China, India and Brazil are rising economic and military powerhouses. We should diversify, invest and bet more on their blue chips. This doesn’t mean we turn our back on good traditional partners, especially those who proved steadfast and honest, like France and Spain, but it means we do not put all our eggs in one basket. The world is becoming more and more a small village. Global networking is the name of the game. After all, that is what the New World Order and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are all about.

So let’s forget and forgive bad blood, skip hard feelings, rise above traditional alliances and open up to the world. New partnerships should balance out old ones. If it continues to act wise, friendly and decent, Russia could be the game changer, and may win the finale!

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi

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