Anti-Russia Sentiment on the Rise in Arab World

Australian newspaper The National has a summary translation of a column published in Al Hayat:

Russia’s less-than-enthusiastic stance on the Arab Spring, and its high tolerance for repressive Arab regimes, raise many questions about Moscow’s real interests in the region, wrote Abdullah Iskandar, managing editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat, in a column yesterday.

But that is not all, he went on. Russia’s patience with the now-fugitive Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and the embattled Syrian president Bashar Al Assad has nurtured these leaders’ illusions that Moscow has got their back.

Russia was unrealistically pushing for “reconciliation” in Libya even when the situation on the ground was clearly past the stage of parleys. “This created an illusion in the mind of Tripoli’s dictator, making him believe that he could still turn the tables on the ground, cushioned by the Russian position.

“Worse perhaps, it had him thinking that he would not really have to make any concessions to his people to achieve that reconciliation.”

The same applies to Syria. The way Moscow has been handling the Syrian issue at the UN Security Council is deluding Mr Al Assad’s regime into believing that it is ultimately immune to international pressure, the editor added.

If the “wrong messages” coming out of Russia ended up protracting bloodshed and destruction in Libya, now they are indirectly standing in the way of radical reforms in Syria.