Belarusian state propaganda cynically uses Syrian tragedy
The Belarusian state propaganda uses the tragedy of the civil war in Syria for its own needs. That said, the Belarusian authorities realistically assess Assad prospects to win the war. Although they formally support the government in Damascus, they do so in a very restrained manner: Syria, destroyed by the war, is not regarded as a promising partner in the Middle East.
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has appeared on the Belarusian state television, which has become a notable event. However, the Belarusian propaganda has appealed to the Syrian events purely for domestic reasons.
Syria has practically ceased to exist as a single state. Assad retains control over part of Syria solely thanks to direct military intervention by Russia and Iran. Minsk is well aware of that. For many years, the Belarusian authorities have built partnerships with the Arabian monarchies and Turkey with varying degrees of success. The latter, provide financial, political and military support to anti-Assad rebels. Minsk is carrying out an extremely pragmatic, if not cynical, foreign policy. It has no practical reason to support Bashir al-Assad and jeopardize already established relations with Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.
Bashir al-Assad’s interview with the Belarusian state television should be regarded as:
- intimidation of the Belarusian population with possible consequences of political destabilization. That said, Ukraine as a negative example is becoming less effective. The severity of the war in Syria provides the state propaganda with a lot more texture
- a demarche designed to demonstrate discontent with the Western policy towards Belarus
- a gesture of loyalty to Russia, which is increasingly drawn into the Syrian civil war, and expressing discontent with the fact that she does not receive political and moral support from her formal allies
The fact that Bashir al-Assad has appeared on the Belarusian state TV is not a sign that the Belarusian-Syrian relations have entered a new stage, let alone that Minsk has engaged in the Syrian conflict. The Belarusian authorities in a conventional manner attempt to use the crisis in other states to address their domestic political and propaganda issues.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.