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It was interesting to spend a few days in South Africa last week and to hear some different perspectives from the media and from those I met with about the resignation of Kofi Annan and the unfolding developments in Syria. The Western media has been lamenting how the protection of civilians in Syria has been cruelly thwarted by the pesky Russians who are determined to maintain a naval base on the Mediterranean. Those I spoke with in Johannesburg were not lacking in compassion for the innocent victims in Syria, but they were much more critical about what they perceived as the duplicity and double standards of Western Governments.
The West is perceived to be seeking to topple an authoritarian regime in Syria not because of any commitment to the human rights of people in Syria, but because of a desire to weaken Iran. Several people pointed out to me that alongside a public strategy of blaming Russia the West has been quietly supporting the efforts of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to arm opposition groups in Syria.