Recently, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of Russia’s opposition LDPR drew comparisons between the Spanish Civil War and the war in Syria.
The comparisons are apt and ought to serve as a warning to the world.
Zhirinovsky stated that after fascism gained a decisive stronghold through a protracted military conflict in Spain, it filled the young fascist states of Italy and Germany with the confidence to spread their vile ideology across Europe, ultimately swallowing up the majority of the continent by either military force or intimidation.
He went on to conclude that the war in Syria displays some discomforting parallels and indeed this is the case.
Just as Germany and Italy funded, armed and aided Franco’s fascist forces in Spain whilst avoiding an excessive degree of direct engagement, in Syria and indeed in Iraq and elsewhere the Saudi regime and their Gulf allies are doing much the same thing.
As I have previously written, as the petro-dollar falters, the Saudis are turning from economic imperialism to territorial and political imperialism.
Just as was the case with Spain Syria is the front line in a proxy war that if lost by the Syrian government could result in the spread of Wahhabism throughout the region.
Iraq due to its weak central government could fall like a domino thereby creating an unbroken chain of Wahhabist power from the Gulf to the Levant.
How ironic that the West, which in 1990 ostensibly fought a war to defend Kuwait’s sovereignty and independence, now in order to further its unrealisable geopolitical ambitions, is complicit in a project to create a Wahhabist caliphate extending all the way from from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.
However there are signs of hope and these are to be found in the differences between the Syrian war and the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.
In the 1930s the fledgling Second Spanish Republic was weak and its internal allies were deeply divided amongst themselves. Factionalism between leftist and centrist forces was a crucial factor in the Republic’s eventual defeat and in Franco’s ultimate victory. Support from the geographically distant Soviet Union was not as thorough as was support from the fascist powers of nearby Italy and Germany.
By contrast, whereas Republican forces were divided and disunited, Syria’s forces, in spite of tremendous odds, have remained steadfast in support of their people and their homeland.
President Assad shows no signs of giving up. He will almost certainly outlast the reigns of his staunchest opponents.
Indeed, the recent coup in Turkey demonstrates that in many ways Assad’s rule is actually stronger than that of Erdogan, despite the seeming contrast between a Syria at war a relatively stable Turkey.
Where Franco’s fighters were generally united, the terrorists fighting Assad are also fighting themselves. Their command structures are often ad hoc and many have no professional military training. They are savage and barbarous to be sure, but there is a big difference between cutting the throat of an unarmed 12 year old boy, and fighting a professional army.
The other big difference is that geographically Iraq and Syria are book ended by two Shia powers which have not stood idly by whilst a radical form of Sunni Islam tries takes control of Mesopotamia and parts of the Levant.
Iran to the east has aided the Syrian government and the anti-Wahhabist fighters in Iraq. Hezbollah to the west has shown that in many ways it is a more capable fighting force than the Lebanese army.
The biggest difference however is that whereas in Spain Soviet aid was ultimately outdone by that of Germany and Italy, in Syria Russia’s aid to the anti-extremist forces is strong, unflinching and very powerful indeed.
Had the Soviet Union thoroughly come to the aid of Republican Spain and strangled fascism in the cradle, the Second World War might have been averted.
By aiding Syria with the might and fortitude which Russia has shown, the same might be said about a third world war, especially if under Trump America switches sides, as it ultimately did in the battle against fascism after 1941.