The meeting of the deputy foreign ministers of the BRICS countries in Moscow on Thursday regarding the Middle East situation is a major development, as the joint communique testifies. The major elements are:
a) BRICS has taken a common position with regard to what has come to be known as the ‘Arab Spring’. The basic principles have been identified: focus should be on peaceful national dialogue; no excuse for foreign intervention; central role of the UN Security Council.
b) BRICS took a common stance on Syria. The key sentence is, “Any external interference in Syria’s affairs, not in accordance with the UN Charter, should be excluded.”
c) BRICS calls for a “thorough review” of the appropriateness of the NATO intervention in Libya and suggests a UN mission in Tripoli to handle the current transition process, flagging specifically a role for African Union.
d) BRICS rejected the threat of force against Iran and called for continued dialogue and negotiations. Most significantly, it criticised the US-EU moves on additional sanctions, calling them “counterproductive” measures that would ” only exacerbate” the situation.
e) BRICS lauded the GCC initiative on Yemen as an example.
This is a milestone for BRICS - and also for Russian diplomacy. The credibility of BRICS as an influential voice in the international system gets enhanced. Hopefully, from the Middle Eastern issues, BRICS will proceed to articulate common position on other regional and international issues.
Russia, evidently, took the initiative for the meeting on Thursday and the joint communique more or less adopts the stated Russian position on the Arab Spring. Russia gains diplomatically by getting the BRICS to endorse its deep concerns over the Syrian situation against the growing likelihood of a Libya-like western intervention.
Of late, FM Sergey Lavrov has been strongly articulating the growing Russian concerns. Moscow was feeling frustrated
that the West and Turkey are not only interfering blatantly on Syria by smuggling arms into the country and inciting civil-war like conditions, but actively sabotaging all attempts to initiate a national dialogue between the Syrian regime and the opposition.
Equally, BRICS’s stance will be received well in Damascus and Tehran. On the contrary, it is a setback for the US and its allies who are rachetting up the tensions over Syria and Iran. No doubt, India’s participation in the Moscow meeting is a matter of particular interest. Washington will take note. Russia virtually got the BRICS to censure US’s interventionist policies
in the Middle East.
Clearly, there is no scope left now for the US to get a UN Security Council mandate of any sort for an intervention in Syria. Turkey may have bitten more than it can chew on Syria. Israel also gets a rap on its knuckles.
The formulation on “equal and reliable security” for the Persian Gulf countries on the basis of a “system of relations” can be seen, arguably, as a repudiation of the NATO’s advent as a provider of security for the region. The BRICS joint communique is here