U.S. media, intent on noting every attack and massacre in the civil war raging between the al-Asad regime and its opposition in Syria, do little to explain what is at stake globally.
Unlike the revolutions in Tunis, Egypt and Libya, the Syrian revolution has vital import for the major global powers — the United States, the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — and their major challengers — Russia, China and Iran.
Russia and China are determined that Syria's fate will not be the same as that of Tunisia, Egypt or Libya. Syria is the most important country in the Middle East for the desired projection of geostrategic power by Russia and China into the eastern Mediterranean.
Further, it allows Beijing to show that it will support Iran's projection of power into Syria, Lebanon and to the Palestinians. Iran also imports more weapons systems from China than any other country in the world providing Beijing with a potentially strong presence in the Persian Gulf region.
Never miss a local story.
Russia also wants to demonstrate that it will not easily tolerate the kind of marginalization by the United Nation, the U.S., EU and NATO that resulted from NATO's war against the Libyan regime.
Moscow also has geostrategic interests in Syria. Russia's large naval base at Tartus is its only naval base in the Mediterranean and is vital for its naval and submarine activities there. This naval base has become even more vital as the result of huge gas and oil discoveries off the coast of Israel.
It is estimated that the reserves of gas and oil may make Israel one of the top 10 gas producing countries in the world within 10 years. More gas and oil fields have been discovered off Cyprus, and Turkey is feverishly drilling off its southern coast. Moscow would like a stable and permanent base from which to monitor these emerging energy fields.
Russia also wants to send a strong message that it is extremely unhappy with NATO's decision, driven by the U.S,, to build a ballistic and nuclear armed missile shield in east European countries directed at Russian sites. Moscow, too, is concerned that the demise of the al-Asad regime will further strengthen Turkey's position in the eastern Mediterranean, especially in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraqand among the Palestinians, making Turkey, along with Israel, the two strongest countries in the eastern Mediterranean.
Moscow is concerned that if the above scenario occurs, then Turkey would be in a better position to challenge Russia more strongly in the Caucasus, long dominated by Russia, especially in the countries of Georgia and Azerbaijan.
If this happens, then Ankara might well support an Azerbaijan military attack on Armenia in order to regain some 20 percent of territory that it lost to Armenia in wars in the 1990s.
Azerbaijan, flush with billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues, is primed for war against Armenia which is allied with Russia, the traditional protectors of Christians against warring Muslims. Azerbaijan is allied with Turkey, another Turkish speaking country. The two Turkic countries are closely connected by the motto, "Two nations but one people."
Thus, in terms of global geostrategic interests, Syria is as vital for Moscow as are the countries of the Caucasus. It should also be noted that Iran, although a country in which Muslim clergy provide much of the leadership, is a strong supporter of Armenia, unlike Turkey, which in the West, is charged with committing genocide against the Armenians in 1915.
If the al-Asad regime were to fall during the next six months, which seems likely, supported by the "Friends of Syria," who are also the enemies of Iran, it holds the possibility of creating more geostrategic and geopolitical challenges from Russia and China who also oppose current policies toward Iran.
Robert Olson of Lexington is a Middle East analyst and author of The Ba'th in Syria, 1947-1982.