‘Russia and China Seen as Enemies of Arabs’

  • 1 April 2015

Russia and China are accused of being the new enemies of the Arab people. During the last day of the 20th Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) conference on ‘Middle East: Shifting Roles, Interests and Alliances’, Professor Abdullah Al Shayji, professor at the Department of Political Science at Kuwait University, accused the two Eastern powers of being against Arab people by not taking a stand.

“Russia and China support bloody war criminals like (Bashar) Assad,” Professor Al Shayji told Khaleej Times.

“They used their veto power four times not to condemn abusive regimes and terror groups acting against Arab people, and not condemning a criminal act is at least as worse as condoning it. I will remember the silence of my friends more than the actions of my enemies,” he stressed.

During his presentation, Al Shayji also pointed out that, along with Iran, Russia and China are the only nations opposing the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s action in Yemen.

Much to the criticism of other participants at the conference, including that of former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Al Shayji described the Arab coalition as a Sunni one, and this might increase the rifts between Sunnis and Shias.

“I want to bring to your attention something that I feel very strongly about. The Middle Eastern conflicts are confused between Sunnis and Shias, something that is completely wrong,” stressed Siniora.

From a different perspective, Al Shayji hailed the Saudi-led coalition, calling it a “tectonic shift” that proves the world, especially the US, Iran and Turkey, that the Arabs are not against each other and can stand together.

“There is an imbalance of internal powers in Arab nations and that allowed the US to divide the Arab world. I don’t blame Israel and I don’t blame Iran for taking advantage of our internal weaknesses; I don’t blame Turkey for trying to take back power in the region. I blame us,” said Al Shayji.

Just like all other speakers at the conference, he stressed that economic and social development, coupled with unified actions, are key to overcoming conflicts and extremist groups overtaking governments.


Chinese stand

Professor Pan Guang, vice-chairman and director of the Shanghai Centre for International Studies in China, urged Arab nations to be cautious when it comes to Iran.

“Don’t bomb Iran! If you do, the population will go on the other side and that is more dangerous than Iran’s nuclear capabilities,” he said.

“In the case of Israel and Palestine, China supports two states; this is the only way of achieving peace,” added Professor Guang.

He further pointed out that China has good relations with Turkey, but wishes that Turkey will have better control over and stop young Muslims from crossing its borders into Syria to go and join Daesh, especially since China has 20 million Muslims and many now are travelling through Turkey to join the fighting in Syria.

Shift in thinking must

Dr Marwan Al Muasher, vice-president for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the USA, stressed that no military coalition will succeed without economic development and a shift in thinking throughout the Arab world.

“The alliances we see today are important to fight terrorism, but are we witnessing any efforts in civilisational actions?” he asked.

“I hope to see an enlightening Arab force, working along with an Arab military force to get the Arab people to a better place,” he added.

Dr Al Muasher further stressed that better knowledge and thinking process should be accompanied by the acceptance of different religions. “It is high time that we recognise religious pluralism and Arab societies should agree to gender equality,” he stressed.

Fighting terror without a plan for a better future will not change anything, in his opinion.

“The question is do Arabs want change? Re-packaging existing systems have no benefit,” he concluded.