Belarus: a bridge to cooperation
By Edward Thomson
The crisis that has engulfed Belarus in the past months is one too common in countries that disagree with the western centric governance of the global international system. A democraBelarustic revolution, a coloured revolution some would say. Others would call it an effective campaign by a minority of opponents to the current regime.
Their goal: to create enough political instability to bring forth the scrutiny of the international community with hopes of imposing sufficient restrictions to topple the executive. However, what we can all agree on is that the situation feels like a reminder of what happened in Ukraine in 2014. Are we ready to watch a new rift being created between the West and the rest of the world?
Without going into details about the numeral results for the elections on August 9, 2020, what is certain is that Svitlana Tsikhanouskaya, one of the leaders of the opposition in Belarus who run against the incumbent President, made it clear that she would not recognize the outcome of the election on the basis that there had been electoral fraud, and going further as to self-proclaim herself the true victor of the elections. The riot and the anarchy that ensued following the rejection of results has brought forth a polarising conflict that is a blatant token of why order has to prevail if a democratic country is to transition from one governance to another.
Once again, the West is playing a dangerous game, with some countries recognizing opposition leader Tsikhanouskaya as the de facto Representative of the Belarus people, or even as an exiled head of state. This form of involvement akin to foreign interference is quite incomprehensible, especially in the wake of the substantial changes that Belarus had experienced in the last decade, notably in regards to its long time relation with Moscow the new trading hubs and free trade agreements it is developing with other countries like China, and other neighbouring countries.
The alienation that the West is unilaterally creating in supporting the dissident voices is not only hazardous, but it discredits any opposition groups by directly associating them to a foreign intervention rather that being a grassroots movement. Considering that Russia has already warned the EU not to intervene in Belarus, it would be wise to maintain tensions to a minimal in a region already plagued by historic power struggles between the NATO and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). With the recent pushes of NATO deployments and exercises in the Baltic States, the West is one step closer to igniting a powder keg. This move might impact the relationship between Belarus and Russia, which is the only power able to physically protect its sovereignty.
This is not an argument about percentages, votes, polls; this is a pragmatic view about the situation in Belarus, about what the turmoil it is facing could entail for not only its future but for the whole region, and the relations between the different powerhouses at stake, most notably the United States (US) and Russia but also Germany,
China and the United Kingdom (UK). Don’t be fooled, there is more to it that catches the eye, and one would ask why is the West so quick to now decry this Central/East European
nation, what has changed?
The 2014 Ukrainian revolution should be a stark reminder of how quick instability can cripple a nation and lead to its downfall. When a few violent and determined individuals manage to impose widespread chaos, it is not long before the neighbouring states are affected; creating power vacuums that lead to inadvertent actions or even forced interventions.
These dynamics of power projection between the US and EU versus the CIS, led to the removal of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the overthrow of the Ukrainian government at the time.
That forced decision of choosing between aligning itself with the West, mirage of greener pastures, versus its long time neighbour and natural ally, Russia, created a wedge in Ukrainian society, ripping through the social fabric of the country, where different ethnically distinct Ukrainians previously lived in harmony with their ethnic Russian neighbours. The result: violent clashes that tore through Ukraine’s capital, the separation of Crimea, and a civil war that as opposed the central government of Kiev to its Eastern autonomous regions. In this context, it is normal that the Belarussian government would preconize order and stability rather than pandemonium. Without it, Belarus might have fallen in a similar pattern as Ukraine.
If that tune seems familiar it is because of the similarity with the 2020 U.S. Presidential election last November. The rejection of the electoral vote precipitated the North American democracy in an uproar, creating a scene reminiscent of the War of 1812, when the British Army entered the U.S. Capital and torched the White House.
The storming of the Capitol building in Washington DC is a direct consequence of what can happen when different groups of the population decide to take matters into their own hands, when there is a breach of trust in the political institutions and the authority in power or soon to be. Yet, no one has called for an intervention in America, nor has anybody proposed that the US President or the US Government be dismissed based on electoral fraud. As it turns out, cooperation is the best approach to promote democracy. Hopefully, the West will work towards constructing bridge with Belarus and other nations.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.