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4 April 2022

How Arab Countries View the Crisis in Ukraine

By: Sobhi Ghandour
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As I followed the news of Russia's military operations in Ukraine, I wondered how western countries, the United States in particular, expected people in Arab countries to view this dangerous development, that is, the violation of the principle of international legitimacy that rejects the military invasion of one state by any other! But where was this international legitimacy when the United States and Britain invaded Iraq? Or when NATO intervened militarily in Libya? Or when Israel invaded and occupied south Lebanon in 1978 and then invaded and occupied its capital in 1982? Israel was not internationally condemned nor were sanctions imposed on it! Moreover, what has this international legitimacy done since 1948 in support of the Palestinian people? They have been expelled from their land and have been the victims of many displacements, killings and massacres, and their international legitimacy is not even recognized with regards to their right of resistance against the Israeli occupier who usurped their entire homeland!

Why is there a "halal invasion" and a "haram invasion"? All kinds of military invasions of other countries are condemned, whatever the justifications and excuses for them, but this global political and media campaign against the Russian invasion of Ukraine has never been measured against NATO or Israeli invasions. In the eyes of the Arab world, the Western double standards are now being repeated on the global stage.

Why was it "legitimate" for Saudi Arabia to invade Yemen, with Washington's support, under the pretext of defending its borders, even though Yemen never invaded; whereas Russia has no right to protect its national interests in Ukraine? Why is Turkey, a NATO member, entitled to invade, bomb and occupy territory in Syria and Iraq, and in Cypress before that, but Russia has no right to intervene in neighboring Ukraine, where NATO plans to annex and install a "missile shield" directed against Russia as it did in other countries close to the Russian border.

Why was the world, at the beginning of the 1960s, on the brink of a world war between the communist and capitalist camps because of Moscow's missile status on the U.S. border island of Cuba, where this serious international crisis ended with the withdrawal of these Russian missiles and the continued presence of the U.S. military base at Guantanamo on Cuban soil (for more than 60 years now) despite the existence of a communist regime there? Why was Washington entitled to intercept Russian missiles on its borders, but Moscow now has no right to object to the deployment of missiles and NATO on its borders?

The world was and will remain the law of the jungle where the strong eat the weak, and the strongest dominate in the struggle among the lions! The Arab region is once again divided between the supporters of this or that international body without realizing that the outcome of the "conflict of the powerful" always ends at the expense of the weak. Freedom from dependency on any foreign entity is the criterion for true independence and national freedom and national self-determination. Wasn't that the justification for the non-aligned countries and “positive neutrality” during the Cold War between NATO and the Warsaw Pact when the two sides of the world fought in the arenas of third world countries, avoiding direct confrontation for half a century under the umbrella of the "Yalta Agreement", which drew red lines for each side and was respected by both despite their sharp differences and contradictions?

Will the Ukraine crisis end with one side’s victory over the other through a direct military confrontation? I don't see this happening now, nor is it what Moscow or Washington wants. But can the world endure a continuing crisis at this time of economic and trade hardships in both the West and the East? I doubt this will happen in a world that is already economically exhausted by the Coronavirus epidemic and its repercussions.

Perhaps the only way out of this crisis, after the end of Russian military operations, will be joint European/Chinese mediation that allows Washington and Moscow to save face and lays the foundation for a new international order based on a "polar quartet" that deals with international crises, preserves the interests of the various sides, and respects their red lines as happened with the Yalta Agreement during the Cold War.

* The director of the Al Hewar Center in Washington. - alhewar@alhewar.com

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