Amid BRICS' rise and 'Arab Spring', a new global order forms
With American unilateralism ebbing, Western nations and the rising BRICS countries are still finding their way to a new geopolitical balance – and Arab Spring nations like Syria are caught in the middle.
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That new world order has lost some of its sheen in the past two decades. But in 2011, some kind of epic liberation is again taking place – this time in the Middle East. The United States and Europe are once more looking on approvingly, for the most part. But again, Moscow has issues. So does Beijing, whose leaders view mass street protests with alarm.
Yet unlike in 1989, the US and Europe are now cash-strapped and described as "exhausted." The rising powers of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (the BRICS) hold an estimated $4 trillion in foreign reserves and make up one-third of the world's 6 billion population. And they are posing new challenges to the world order shaped by the West.
From Europe, many see the BRICS as less interested in shared ideas of a multilateral world, and more inclined toward a nationalistic, multipolar world that emphasizes their own new strengths and interests. The result is fading authority and consensus on the world stage. The cold war "spheres of influence" between two powers are long gone. The new world order of American dominance has faded. But no clear leadership or rules have replaced this. New fights between trends of human rights and democracy – and sovereignty – have no rules as of yet.
The clash came into stark relief in a UN resolution on Syria this month. The resolution called on the regime of Bashar al-Assad to halt its "violent offensive at once." That offensive has been in the news every day since March: The United Nations stated Oct. 14 that more than 3,000 protesters have been killed in the bloodiest episode of the Arab Spring.
The debate over sanctions against Syria
In early October, the West was setting the stage for putting great pressure on Mr. Assad. On Oct. 2, in Istanbul, Turkey, the Syrian National Council (SNC) debuted as the international opposition to Assad's regime. The council includes Muslim Brotherhood figures, secular advocates, academics, and pro-US and pro-Turkey figures. Europe and the US back the SNC. Its launch in Turkey – which shares a border with Syria – with the blessing of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was significant.