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    Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan, near Idlib, Syria in 2012.

    Stephen Cohen: Russia Warned of 'Arab Spring' Consequences, No One Listened

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    Russia has repeatedly warned the United States that radical forces would be on the rise following military coups in the Middle East but Washington still refuses to listen, American scholar Stephen Cohen said during the John Batchelor Show.

    These concerns did not appear out of thin air but have been grounded in sound knowledge of the region. "Putin and the whole Russian political class, I dare say, knows the Middle East culturally, intellectually better than the United States does," one of the leading experts on Russia pointed out.

    Moscow "has warned from the beginning that the Arab Spring with its toppling of governments would not lead to democracy but would kick over ancient tombstones as Russians say and release terrible forces. … From the get-go Putin has been factually correct, Obama has been factually wrong. But Washington is unable to admit they had made policy based on a mythology," Cohen asserted.

    One look at Iraq or Libya, which have been plagued by violence resulting from Western-led military operations, is enough to support this view.

    The United States could take past experiences into account when dealing with Syria. The key lesson would be: listen to Moscow's opinion before acting.

    "So what Putin is saying today is that you, the United States, want to remove Assad and we guarantee you, as we told you before you invaded Iraq, before you overthrew Gaddafi in Libya, that something much worse and that you will like even less will ensue if you do that. So don't do it and we are going to do everything to prevent it," Cohen observed.

    But will the US listen? If past is any indication, this is unlikely to happen.

    "What alarms me is the inability of Washington to rethink anything, partly because the rethinking might bring them into agreement with a position held by Moscow and Putin. The premise seems to be: Moscow and Putin can never be right," the scholar observed.

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    Tags:
    Middle East, Islamic extremism, terrorism, coup, Arab Spring, Stephen Cohen, Libya, Syria, Iraq, United States, Russia
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