February 7, 2012 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 794

Following Russian-Chinese Veto in Security Council, Increasing Calls in Arab World to Boycott Russian, Chinese Goods

February 7, 2012 | By Y. Yehoshua*
Syria | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 794


In protest over Russia and China's policy regarding the events in Syria, and especially following their February 4, 2012 veto of a UN Security Council Resolution calling on Assad to hand over power to his deputy and thus empower him to cooperate with the transitional government, the Arab world has seen increased calls condemning Russian and Chinese policy and calling to boycott their goods. Syrian oppositionist representatives protested against the veto, which they say encourages the Syrian regime to continue massacring its own people. An article on the Syrian oppositionist e-newspaper Zaman Al-Wasal went even further by demanding that any Russian or Chinese citizen found in Syria should be kidnapped and killed.

On the Arab front, calls to boycott Russian and Chinese goods, which initially started as grassroots movements on message boards and Facebook, gradually received the support of clerics like International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) head Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi and Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood head Himam Sa'id.

Calls for a political and economic boycott of Russia also appeared in the Saudi press, which has adopted an anti-Syrian line in support of international intervention in the country. Several Saudi e-newspapers called to expand the boycott to goods from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, which also support the Syrian regime.

Following is an overview of the calls to boycott Chinese and Russian goods:

Article on Syrian Oppositionist Website: Kidnap and Kill Any Russian or Chinese Citizen Found in Syria

Russia and China's veto in the Security Council was met with outrage among Syria's oppositionists. Buhran Ghalioun, the head of the Syrian National Council, told Al-Arabiya TV that the Russian and Chinese veto was a "license to kill" granted by the two countries to the Syrian regime. He claimed that both countries "are responsible for the escalation of incidents of murder and destruction."[1]

Fahd Al-Masri, a Paris-based Syrian oppositionist and charter member of the National Change Current, the founding of which was announced in Istanbul on February 4, 2012, said that Russia has become the Syrian regime's official partner in "the crime of murdering and massacring the Syrian people." He called on all opposition forces to boycott any dialogue or relations with the Russian regime, and on all Arab and free peoples to boycott Russian and Chinese goods. According to Al-Masri, "the Syrian people will not forget Russia and China's offense, and [Syria's] elected institutions will react according to each country's attitude toward the Syrian revolution."[2]

An especially grave threat against the two countries appeared in an article titled "Russia and China Have Become Enemies of the Syrian Arab People," by S'adallah Jabri, a Syrian oppositionist living in the U.S., in Zaman Al-Wasal. Jabri wrote: "...Will we merely curse Russia and China and their leaderships? Or will we demand that the Syrian Arab people and all Arab peoples hold courageous daily protests outside their embassies in all Arab capitals and cities? I even demand that the Russian people itself protest against Putin and his government over its madness in supporting a murderous criminal... Will protests suffice? They will suffice if they stop the despicable Russian hostility towards the Syrian Arab people. If they do not [suffice]... we must take vengeance on every Russian and Chinese found in Syria, kidnap them, and kill them as they kill us..."

Jabri called on the Western governments to send their armies to protect the Syrian people and to arrest Bashar Al-Assad and his men and bring them to international trial. He added: "If they are honest, they should do so immediately! If not, they are the second group of hypocrites that we believed were friends of the Syrian Arab people and of the Arab peoples in general; or [perhaps] they are merely a close imitation of Russia, which has ultimately established itself as a primary enemy of the Syrian Arab people, and of all Arabs and Muslims worldwide!

"The Syrian Arab people will soon collect the price to be paid by Russia, together with China, including even the security of its peoples, in response to their betrayal of and disrespect for the security of the Syrian Arab citizens! This is how all Arab peoples should act: They must boycott them in every possible way – politically and commercially! All Syrian merchants must boycott Russian and Chinese companies and refrain from importing their goods. This is the simplest thing [that can] be utilized to combat the despicable Russian-Chinese hostility... Russia and China are now like the hypocrites that Allah spoke of, saying: 'They are the enemy, so beware of them. May Allah destroy them...' [Koran 63:4]."[3]

Following the Russian and Chinese veto, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood issued a communiqué that said: "We condemn the Russian-Chinese conspiracy to support the institution of killing and the tyrannical regime in Syria... and stress the need to keep this criminal position fixed in the Syrian national memory – so that Syrians know who their true enemies are, being that the Russians and Chinese are true partners in the crimes of the regime, and conspirators against the blood and future of the Syrian people.

"We remind every Arab citizen that when he reaches for any Russian or Chinese product, he is dipping his hand in the blood of the Syrian people. We demand that the Arab and Islamic nations adopt positions that answer to those of Russia and China, so that these two countries pay the price for their conspiracy against our people in Syria..."[4]

Facebook Campaign: Boycott Russian and Chinese Goods

Several Facebook pages were launched calling for boycotting Russian and Chinese goods. The biggest one, "Campaign to Boycott Chinese and Russian Goods," was launched on February 4, 2012 immediately following the two countries' Security Council veto. Thus far, the page has over 3,000 members.[5]

This page calls for a preliminary one-day boycott of Russian and Chinese goods on February 12, 2012, and threatens a total boycott in the future.[6] The page's administrators wrote that they are preparing a list of goods to be boycotted, and that it will be posted soon. The "info" section of the page says: "China murders our children by supporting the murderer Bashar Al-Assad. We will boycott [Chinese] goods throughout the Arab and Islamic homeland. This is a message to every free person in the world: Boycott everything Chinese and Russian!"[7]

In addition to several more Facebook pages calling for a boycott, similar calls also appeared on various Arabic message boards; some of them linked to the relevant Facebook pages.[8]

"Campaign to Boycott Chinese and Russian Goods" Facebook page[9]

Another Facebook page calling to boycott Russian and Chinese goods[10]

On February 6, 2012, the Facebook page of the Union of Arab Intellectuals posted a communiqué declaring "a total cultural and economic war on the Russian bear and the Chinese dragon," and calling on Arab companies, importers, and consumers to support "all calls to boycott Russian and Chinese goods."[11]

Images on Facebook pages calling to boycott Russian and Chinese goods[12]

Russia and China washing the blood from the hands of the Syrian regime[13]

Al-Qaradhawi Joins Calls to Boycott Russian and Chinese Goods

Following the veto, and in light of the rising death toll in Syria, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi joined the popular calls to boycott Russian and Chinese goods. During his weekly "Al-Shari'a Wal-Hayat" program on Al-Jazeera TV,[14] he said about the Syrian regime: "They were, unfortunately, supported in the Security Council by the Russians and Chinese, who saw truth with their own eyes, but insisted on supporting falsehood. They insisted upon supporting injustice over justice, falsehood over truth, and darkness over light. The Arab people in its entirety will oppose them.

"I call upon the entire Arab people and the entire Islamic people, and upon all the honorable and free people of the world, to oppose those evil [Syrian] rulers and those who supported them...

"The [Arabs and Muslims] must not buy their products. They must not give them a single penny, because this penny turns into a weapon that kills the Syrians...

"I call upon the Syrian people, the Arab peoples, and the Islamic peoples to boycott them, to refrain from cooperating with them or helping them in any way. May Allah bring disgrace upon them...

"They stood against the nation of Islam and the Arab nation for the sake of narrow interests and a measly pittance. Our nation should oppose these people and know that they are its enemies and rivals.

"I call on all Arab peoples, and all Muslim peoples, and every Muslim who knows his enemies to boycott their goods and to not buy these products. It is forbidden! Is it conceivable for you to buy these goods and give them money?! They, the Russians, sent a big ship to Tartus loaded with weapons so that the [pro-Assad] Syrians could use them to fight our brothers, sons, and daughters in Syria."[15]

A call to boycott Russian and Chinese goods was also heard from Sheikh Himam Sa'id, general guide of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, which is known for its harsh criticism of the Assad regime. Sa'id said: "We do not understand how these two countries can justify their position, which supports a crime unmatched in recent history." According to Sai'd, these two countries are accomplices in the Syrian regime's bloodshed, and they must understand that "their interests [lie] not [in supporting] the Syrian regime, but rather [in supporting] the Syrian people."[16]

Calls in the Saudi Press to Boycott Russian Goods

The Saudi press also featured many articles calling for a political and economic boycott not only of China, but of Russia as well. Tariq Alhomayed, editor of the Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, which is published in London, wrote even in advance of the veto: "A hundred people were killed in one day in Syria, and we do not hear a single voice in our Arab world demanding the boycott of Russian goods, publicly and formally, and likewise have heard no public condemnation of Russia at the official Arab level!... The GCC and other Arab states must also send a delegation of foreign ministers to Moscow, not to negotiate the price of a deal with the Russians, but to inform them of the magnitude of what they will lose if they continue to support the tyrant of Damascus..."[17]

The London daily Al-Hayat featured two separate articles with the title "Boycott Russia." Columnist and senior media figure Daoud Al-Shiryan wrote: "Arab countries must suspend their diplomatic relations [with Russia], boycott its goods, and blacklist its companies. Moscow disrespects the peoples of the region and is renewing its old fascism, and Arabs must confront it with determination."[18]

Similarly, columnist Hassan Haidar wrote: "This conflict between the Arab and Russian interests leaves no other options to the Arab countries, which have exhausted of all their diplomatic efforts, except perhaps to resort to other means, such as a political and economic boycott. Despite the fact that annual trade between Russia and the Arab countries combined does not exceed $12 billion, a large fraction of which is with Syria itself, a boycott may have a significant moral effect, especially since the Russians seem keen on developing ties with the Arab world, in particular the Gulf countries... The Syrians are paying a price in blood for a battle they have nothing to do with, waged by the Russians for the sake of their own interests. So let the Russians pay a price as well."[19]

The calls for an economic boycott of Russia were published alongside harsh Saudi criticism of Russian and Chinese policy in general. An editorial in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah stated: "What [must happen] for the Russians and Chinese to join the international consensus and stop the genocidal massacre carried out by the Assad regime in Syria? Are they waiting for a greater slaughter than the one in Homs?... Statements by representatives of Security Council members, such as 'disgusting' and 'shameful' do not suffice to describe the position of Russia and China, which have surely lost any credit they may have had in the Arab people's consciousness. What happened at the Security Council reveals the speciousness of Russia and China's claim that they are friends of the Arabs, after they failed to be humane and join the international efforts to stop the massacre of Syrians."[20]

Several cartoons on the issue also appeared in the Saudi press:

Russian Veto fuels Assad's war against the Syrian people[21]

"Russia" and "Iran" join efforts with the "Syrian Grim Reaper"[22]

Saudi E-Newspaper Campaign to Extend Boycott to Iraqi, Lebanese, and Iranian Products

A campaign in the Saudi electronic press called for expanding the economic boycott of Russia and China to include goods from Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran. The three Saudi e-newspapers Ard Al-Watan, Al-Nabaa, and Taw'iyya Al-Mostahleq, which share a publisher and are all edited by journalist Sami 'Abd Al-Aziz Al-'Othman, published an ad that read: "Is all this blood not enough for you to stop assisting the tyrant [Bashar Al-Assad]? What are you waiting for, heartless tyrants? People are dying out in the open, children are being buried... Oh Arab peoples, creators of the glory of the Arab nation, the youth revolting in every country, in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and everywhere: Together we can take action. Together we will bring about the victory of Islam and the Muslims. Let us boycott the good of countries that acted and still act to spill more of the blood of the defenseless Syrian people..."[23]

Joint campaign in Saudi press to boycott goods from Russia, China, Lebanon, and Iraq[24]

Ad published in three Saudi dailies: "Let us start a campaign to boycott Russian, Chinese, and Iranian goods"[25]

*Y. Yehoshua is Director of Research at MEMRI.


[1] Al-Rai (Jordan), February 2, 2012.













[14] See MEMRI TV #3308, "Sunni Scholar Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi Calls to Boycott Russian and Chinese Products, States: They Are the Enemies of the Islamic Nation," February 5, 2012,

[15] Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar), February 5, 2012.

[16] Al-Sabil (Jordan), February 5, 2012.

[17] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 29, 2012.

[18] Al-Hayat (Lodon), February 6, 2012.

[19] Al-Hayat (London), February 2, 2012.

[20] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), February 6, 2012.

[21] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), February 2, 2012.

[22] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), January 29, 2012.




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