On Friday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Western politicians admit that allowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stay in power is a lesser evil than an Islamist régime is. Speaking to RIA-Novosti, Lavrov said, “Some of our Western colleagues started to voice the idea… not only in private conversations, but also publicly… that Assad’s rule is a lesser threat to Syria, taking into account the growing influence of jihadists and terrorists who capture vast territories, impose Sharia, exterminate minorities, and burn people alive only because their religion is different”. He said it’d be “incorrect” to say that the present civil war rendered Assad’s rule illegitimate, even though the UN estimated that it’s claimed more than 100,000 lives. Lavrov noted, “If he had no popular support, the war would’ve been over a long time ago, the rebels would’ve wiped out the current leadership, and no one knows what else would’ve happened there. According to estimates made by many experts, a significant number of people, up to 50 percent of Syrians, see Assad as the guarantor of their interests and their security”. Speaking about Assad’s future, Lavrov said that the Syrian President “has no plans to leave his country. He’ll stay with his people and do his duty. Indeed, he [Assad] said that he doesn’t rule out participating in next year’s planned presidential election. He’ll make his decision later, depending on whether he feels he has popular support”.
20 December 2013