Russia Shifting Position on Assad, Tells Him to Make Haste (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Amiel Ungar 03/25/12)
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On Saturday, Syria´s beleaguered President Hafez al-Assad appeared to
be stepping up the tempo in his attempt to eradicate the insurgents.
This is not an angry response to the European Union´s clamping down
on his wife´s shopping options, but a sense that the diplomatic clock
may be running down.
The UN and Arab League mediator, former UN secretary-general Kofi
Annan, is on his way to Russia to speak with outgoing president
Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then go on to
The two countries gave their approval to a nonbinding UN statement
supporting the Annan formula for an end to the violence in Syria,
the opening up of humanitarian corridors, access to international
observers, release of political prisoners, access to the media and a
legal guarantee of peaceful political activities.
What is more ominous for Assad is the music coming from Moscow. This
was started by Foreign Minister Lavrov.
The Russian Foreign Minister still does not quite see the conflict as
pitting the oppressed and righteous opposition against the Assad
regime, but instead, accuses the Gulf States of subversion.
However, Lavrov moved towards criticism of the Syrian regime,
claiming that Assad had reacted incorrectly to nonviolent protest and
had disregarded Russia´s appeals to act differently.
On top of this came comments by the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs
Committee in the Duma´s upper house Mikhail Margelov. Margelov is
very well connected with the Kremlin, is considered one of his
country´s top Middle East experts and speaks fluent Arabic.
Briefing Russian news agencies, Margelov announced that Assad had to
take the first step and pull back the Syrian army from the big
cities, clearing the way for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Something appears to be moving in the Kremlin, leading to speculation
about the causes for this shift in position by Moscow.
Some would say that this was expected once the election was over.
Vladimir Putin apparently believed, according to one theory, that he
had to secure his nationalist and anti-American flank. His closest
rival, although by a far distance, was the Communist leader Gennady
Zyuganov, who had already accused the Kremlin of making a deal with
the Americans by granting them a base for the delivery of supplies to
Afghanistan in return for recognizing the election results.
Now that the election is safely behind him, it is time for fence-
mending, particularly as the Russians have claimed that they would
like to see Barack Obama reelected in November.
Another theory is that the increasing criticism of Russia in Arab
circles is beginning to hit home - and may begin to outweigh Moscow´s
fear of losing its last Soviet era strong point in Syria, despite its
bases and weapons contracts.
At a meeting of the Socialist International in Istanbul, Lebanese
Druze leader Walid Jumblatt called upon Russia to take Assad and his
familily and allow the Syrians to settle things without him, as
nobody would be insane enough to make a deal with Assad.
Jumblatt couldn´t be clearer, saying "If Russia was concerned about
the best interests of the Syrian people, it would remove this family
[Assadís] and take him to Russia or some other place and leave the
Syrian people to decide their fate in freedom and dignityĒ.
Russia has also mounted a diplomatic offensive in the Arab world to
try to convince the Arabs of its benevolent intentions in Syria.
A final theory, mentioned in the Asia Times, claims that the shift
was made possible precisely by Russia and China´s success in blocking
Western diplomatic moves and showing the West that nothing would move
without Moscow´s approval.
The West, in the meantime, was discouraged by disunity and
questionable elements within the Syrian opposition.
This sets the stage for a transition where Russia will be a major
For Assad it does not matter which theory is correct, because if
Russia removes its diplomatic support, it is a long way down for
Bashar al-Assad. (IsraelNationalNews © 2012 03/25/12)
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