During talks in Damascus on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he had to do what it takes to ensure peace in the country, saying, “It’s in our interests that the Arab peoples live in peace and harmony”. Lavrov’s visit came three days after Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the violent crackdown in Syria. He arrived along with Foreign Intelligence Service chief Mikhail Fradkov. Lavrov didn’t reveal the purpose of his mission, telling a news conference in Moscow on Monday it’d be “unveiled only to the addressee”. Ahead of the visit, he said the UN Security Council was too “hasty” in bringing the resolution to a vote and described Western condemnation of Moscow’s veto as “hysterical”. Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described the Russian and Chinese vetoes as a “fiasco” and said that his country was preparing a new initiative. He told a meeting of his ruling AK Party in Ankara, “We’ll start a new initiative with those countries that stand by the Syrian people, not the régime”.
The talks between Assad and Lavrov took place as Syrian authorities continued to bombard the city of Homs, a centre of resistance to his régime. The Syrian government denied targeting civilians and say security forces killed “dozens of terrorists” in Homs on Monday. Homs has been under attack from government forces for weeks; reports indicate that about Syrian forces killed one hundred people on Monday alone. Human rights groups say more than 7,000 people have died since the beginning of the uprising in March last year. The government said that around 2,000 members of its security forces died in the unrest. On Tuesday, EU foreign policy and security chief Catherine Ashton said that EU foreign ministers would meet in two weeks to discuss ways to stop the violence in Syria. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the violence in Syria was “totally unacceptable before humanity”. On Monday, the US State Department said that it shut its embassy in Damascus. Russia’s one of Syria’s main arms suppliers. In December, Russia signed a 550 million USD (16.4 billion Roubles. 414 million Euros. 346 million UK Pounds) contract to sell Syria 36 Yak-130 combat-capable trainer jets, and a Russian-owned ship reportedly carrying munitions docked at a Syrian port last month.
On Tuesday, following talks in Damascus, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would declare a date in the near future for a referendum on a new constitution for his country, saying, “President Assad said that, in the next few days, he’ll meet with a commission that prepared a new projected constitution. This work is complete now; a time will be announced for a referendum on this document, which is so important to Syria”. Lavrov went on to say that al-Assad’s ready for dialogue with all political forces in the country, and ready to make talks happen, adding, “It’s clear that efforts to stop use of force must coincide with a declaration of dialogue between all political forces. Today, we’ve received confirmation of the Syrian President’s readiness to work toward this goal”.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad confirmed his readiness to send an official government delegation to Moscow to hold talks with the Syrian opposition. Also on Tuesday, Lavrov held talks with Assad in Damascus to seek resolution of the Syrian crisis. After the talks, Lavrov said that al-Assad would declare a date for a referendum on a new constitution for his country in the near future. Lavrov’s visit, together with Foreign Intelligence Service chief Mikhail Fradkov, came three days after Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, backed by the Arab League and Western nations, to prevent a repetition of “the Libyan scenario”. Russia’s one of the staunchest supporters of the al-Assad régime during the current uprising.
US State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said that the USA fears that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s national reconciliation initiatives would go nowhere. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks with Syrian President al-Assad in Damascus to seek resolution of the Syrian crisis. After the talks, Lavrov said that al-Assad would declare a date for a referendum on a new constitution for his country in the near future. US State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said, “The international community, as a whole, would be pretty sceptical if, instead of focusing on ending the violence, what we seem to have is a re-upping of this same offer that Assad has been making for months and months and months. Frankly, how that gets us to the kind of peaceful national dialogue about a democratic future for Syria that we all want to see isn’t very clear”. Nuland refused to comment on Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s recent visit to Syria, saying, “The Secretary and the Department will obviously reserve judgement until the Secretary has a chance to consult with Foreign Minister Lavrov after he gets back to Moscow”.
Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Russia “must realise that betting everything on Assad’s a recipe for failure… not just for Russia’s interests in Syria, but for the stability of the region and for Syria’s future”. He added that the United States considered sending “humanitarian aid” to Syrians. Carney said, “We’re exploring the possibility of providing humanitarian aid to Syrians and we’re working with our partners, again, to ratchet up the pressure, ratchet up the isolation on Assad and his regime”. Asked if the US could start arming the opposition, Carney replied, “We’re not considering that step right now”. The statement comes hours after US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said that the USA should “start considering all options, including arming the opposition”.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on the Arab world, the USA, and the EU to refrain from passing judgement on the national dialogue in Syria before it has even begun. Earlier, a US State Department spokesman said that the USA fears that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s national reconciliation initiatives would go nowhere. At a press conference, Lavrov said, “Attempts to predict the outcome of the national dialogue… generally speaking, that’s not the world community’s business. The Arab world, USA, and the EU should foster negotiations between all forces in Syria”. Lavrov, who held talks with al-Assad on Tuesday, confirmed that the Syrian Vice President has the authority to hold talks with all opposition groups and to organise an all-inclusive national dialogue. Lavrov also said the decision by several western countries to withdraw their ambassadors from Syria didn’t help to create conditions for a dialogue. He condemned the Arab League’s decision to suspend the operations of its peace mission in Syria, pointing up that the Arab League “contributed to stabilisation” in the conflict-torn country, saying, “The presence of foreign monitors always plays a restrictive role. It’s incomprehensible why some Persian Gulf countries pulled out their members of the mission, and why the mission’s operations were halted just when its report was to be heard in the UN Security Council”. Lavrov reiterated that Russia would do its best to assist the dialogue in Syria.
On Wednesday, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero accused al-Assad of already breaking the promises he made to Lavrov during the talks in Damascus, saying, “As we expected, the statements Bashar al-Assad made during the Russian Foreign Minister’s visit didn’t put end to the bloody repression. We received information that three families were killed overnight in their homes in Homs by regime supporters”.
Russia used satellite imagery to help the Syrian government fight the growing insurgency in the country, the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported. On Wednesday, the London-based newspaper said that Russian officials provided President Bashar al-Assad with satellite imagery showing the location of the bases and main forces of the Free Syrian Army, the most prominent militant rebel group. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov travelled to Damascus for talks with al-Assad. The newspaper asserted that Mikhail Fradkov, the head of the SVR, who accompanied Lavrov to Damascus, allegedly handed over the imagery to Syrian government forces. Asharq Al-Awsat cited unidentified sources in al-Assad’s government, but also said that its information “wasn’t fully confirmed”. As of Wednesday afternoon, neither the MID nor the SVR had any comments on the story. The Free Syrian Army is the main organised force combating al-Assad’s government in the bloody uprising in Syria, which has claimed at least 5,000 lives since March 2011. Allegedly, the group is comprised primarily of army deserters; reports say that it has up to 20,000 fighters.
Russia’s the main international backer of al-Assad’s régime, having blocked two resolutions targeting it in the UN Security Council, and it’s a major arms supplier to it. In addition, Russian warships called at the Syrian port of Tartus in January. In recent weeks, President al-Assad’s forces stepped up their assaults on insurgents. Media reports indicate that they used artillery to bombard the city of Homs, a hotbed of protests; Syrian opposition activists said the shelling killed several hundred people. The pro-government Syrian SANA news agency blamed the clashes on attacks by unspecified terrorist groups. Yevgeni Satanovsky, the head of the Middle East Institute think-tank, said over the telephone, “Assad’s following a classic anti-insurgency tactic, trying to rout rebels from the cities into the countryside, where a full-scale assault can be launched using heavy weaponry. This tactic worked for the Algerian government, which defeated its own insurgency during a civil war in 1991-2002”.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and SVR Director Mikhail Fradkov visited Damascus yesterday to help stabilise the situation in Syria through democratic reforms. Thousands welcomed them, waving Syrian and Russian flags, applauding, and chanting, “Thank you, Russia!” Tuesday’s visit by high-ranking Russian officials indicated that Moscow, which voted against the UN Security Council resolution on Syria, is trying to find a political solution. Lavrov said Russia asked the Security Council not to vote on its Syria resolution until they talked with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but that the pro-resolution countries refused to wait. They proceeded to vote on a document with no consideration for Russia’s request, possibly hoping to use Russia as a scapegoat if the situation worsens.
Armed with a letter from President Medvedev, Lavrov and Fradkov met with al-Assad. The meeting lasted approximately three hours. According to ITAR-TASS, Lavrov said, “Every leader in every country should understand their responsibility. You understand yours. It’s in our interests that the Arab peoples live in peace and harmony”. Bashar al-Assad replied, “Russia’s stance was crucial in saving my homeland. Russia and Syria are old friends, but Syria never wanted to be a burden to its friends. Syria wants to be a friend in need”. After the talks, Lavrov said that President al-Assad is committed to stopping the violence by all sides and that “the visit to Damascus was timely and useful”. President al-Assad accepted Russia’s proposal to increase the number of Arab League observers. Lavrov said the Syrian president planed to announce a referendum on a new constitution soon.
Experts don’t think the parties discussed the resignation of al-Assad, especially since it’d likely intensify the chaos. Yevgeni Satanovsky, president of the Middle East Institute, said, “Assad’s overthrow would only bring Islamist radicals to power, split the country, and lead to a massacre of Shias and Christians”. According to the Syrian newspaper Al-Watan, Lavrov and Fradkov may have discussed “methods for resisting any possible actions of the West and its Arab allies against Syria”. China supported Russia’s effort at a political solution. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China could also send a delegation to Syria to discuss a political settlement. Georgi Mirsky, a senior researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), said, “Moscow’s supported by Iran, which is also facing international isolation, and possibly by Shia-led Iraq. Other countries will try to blame Russia if developments in Syria become touchy, whilst Moscow refuses to concede to the West”.
Meanwhile, Britain and France recalled their ambassadors for consultation. The USA closed its embassy in Damascus, allegedly due to deteriorating security, but many observers see this as the end of a long relationship. Over the past year, Washington’s view of al-Assad has changed from a pro-democracy leader to a ruthless dictator. Barack Obama said that they “continue to see unacceptable levels of violence” in Syria and that al-Assad should “step aside”.
7/8 February 2012
Let’s keep this short. In US parlance, “humanitarian intervention” means bombs, invasion, and the massacre of the local Christian population (and the divvying up of the local resources by Western multinationals). We’ve seen that in the wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq. Now, the USA wishes to extend the benefits of its Laissez-faire Neoliberal paradise to Syria… and to turn the country over to radical Islamists, as the USA did in the countries mentioned. Russia and China are standing against it. Don’t forget… one of the two major causes of the present economic meltdown was the hellishly-expensive wars and “interventions” waged by the USA in foreign parts coupled with tax slashes for the One Percenters and their affluent effluent lackeys (the other was the scrapping of virtually all New Deal-era business and securities regulation, allowing greedy corporate vultures to run amuck).
Note well that Senator McCain (and his foreign policy guru Randall Schneuermann) effusively supported Saakashvili when the Georgians launched a sneak Grad bombardment of Tskhinvali. Civilian deaths and suffering don’t matter to these soulless bastards as long as Western vulture capitalists get the opportunity to pick clean the resources of a given state or region. Both the Neocon Republicans and Interventionist Democrats applaud anything done by the McMansion dwellers. Note well how they lied in support of the Georgian aggressors in ’08… no doubt, they’re lying again.
A Note to Orthodox people in the diapora:
Yes, the usual culprits are up to their noses in this. You KNOW who they are… they make a pretentious noise in the District, don’t they? Send them NO money. A certain someone in Takoma Park (and his clueless NW DC puppet) will understand THAT, I guarantee it (they’re an Orthodox analogue of I M Weasel and I R Baboon). Don’t forget… Fathausen went to Georgia. I wonder who paid for it, and why? After all, the OCA has no real interest or jurisdiction in the Caucasus, does it, now? However, there ARE people over in Northern Virginia QUITE interested in that part of the world…