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Why the Kremlin Opposes Assad’s Immediate Ouster (Izvestia, Russia)


“When the Russian side objects to Western demands for Assad’s immediate withdrawal, it isn’t because Russia is fixated on his remaining in power. … During the Syrian crisis, the Russian side has attempted to appeal to its Western partners to learn the lessons of the 'Arab Spring' in other countries. Chancellor Bismarck said, “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.' Alas, when it comes to the Syrian situation, our American partners refuse to learn - even from their own mistakes.”


ByAndranik Migranyan*



Translated By Anastassia Tapsieva


June 25, 2012


Russia - Izvestia - Original Article (Russian)

Reading the mind of Vladimir Putin: Figuring out what the man really thinks is something of a global diplomatic parlor game.


RUSSIA TODAY TV: Syria declares 'state of war' as Iran issue calls for stalled talks, June 27, 00:03:33RealVideo

At a recent seminar in Washington D.C. (organized by New York-based Institute for Democracy and Cooperation and Washington D.C.-based Center for the National Interest), which coincided with the G20 Summit in Los Cabos and the meeting of presidents Putin and Obama, I once again heard my American colleagues from think tanks and parts of the power structure voice the position of the West and especially United States on the events in Syria, and offer wide variety of interpretations and explanations of Russia’s position on the issue.


The first thing to note is that in Western political and diplomatic circles and among the Western public, there are several myths about what’s happening in Syria.


The first myth stems from the fact that due to the one-sided perspective on events in Syria presented by Western mass media, which encourages a belief in the general public and some politicians and diplomats that the whole of Syrian society has risen up against Bashar al-Assad and is demanding his resignation. In fact Assad, as has been confirmed by parliamentary elections on May 7, has the support of a considerable portion of the country’s population. Moreover, he has the support of ethnic and religious minorities and relies on the power of the sizable and by Middle East standards - a well-equipped military.


The second myth, widespread in expert and political circles, is that Assad is completely dependent on Russia and China (mostly on Russia), and that if Moscow so desires, it can demand Assad’s resignation and he will have to comply. But as stated above, Assad has his own base of support. His dependence on Russia is not critical - at least not at this stage. Tremendous political and economic interests of many influential groups in Syrian society are at stake, and even if he wanted to, Assad couldn’t just pick up and leave his post because of Moscow’s demands.


During the aforementioned seminar, some American participants came to a consensus that Russia, using its influence and connections to Syrian Army commanders, should instigate a military coup. This, they anticipated, would resolve a problem that has become a stumbling block between Russia and Western countries, and particularly the United States. Moreover, one of the participants, a high-ranking official in U.S. law enforcement, said that such actions had already been suggested by the U.S. administration to Russian authorities.


Obviously, the people making such suggestions don’t understand that, first, relations between Moscow and Damascus are not like those between Washington and Cairo, where at the request of the U.S. military and Pentagon, Egyptian generals carried out a de-facto revolution and removed Mubarak from power. Since the Camp David agreements, Egyptian generals have received billions of dollars in annual cash infusions from Washington, and so are extremely receptive to its desires.


Guardian, U.K.: Why U.S. and Russia Want a Backroom Deal Over Syria
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La Stampa, Italy: Obama Offers Putin End Game Commitment on Syria
Moskovskij Komsomolets, Russia: Obama's ‘Hope’ Keeps Putin from ‘Window on Paradise’
An Nahar, Lebanon: Moscow’s Military Action in Syria a ‘Gift’ to Washington
Ma’ariv, Israel: Russia’s ‘Sadomasochistic’ Foreign Policy Success
Ma'ariv, Israel: Why Syria is Lebanon All Over Again
Debka, Israel: Russia, China, Iran Plan 'Biggest-Ever' Middle East Maneuvers
Debka, Israel: U.S. and Russia Deploy to Syria; 'Double Prey' for al-Qaeda
NZZ, Switzerland: Houla Massacre is No ‘Turning Point’ for Syria
An Nahar, Lebanon: Syria is Another Iraq, with Israel Thrown In
FARS News Agency, Iran: U.S. and Allies ‘Revive’ al-Qaeda for Use in Syria
NZZ, Switzerland: Houla Massacre is No ‘Turning Point’ for Syria
Al-Baath, Syria: America and the ‘Global War Against Syria’
Global Times, China: U.S., West ‘Morally Accountable’ for Syria Massacre
Daily Star, Lebanon: Daylight Massacre in Syria
Telegraph, U.K.: The Real Dilemma on Syria: Can the West Go it Alone?
BBC, U.K.: Scars of Iraq War Haunt American Policy in Syria
Global Times, China: Syria Crisis China's Moment to Show it Can't Be Hemmed In
Global Times, China: Beijing Shows 'Courage' By Vetoing Syria Resolution at U.N.
Guardian, U.K.: Before Syria Crisis Expands, Obama and NATO Should Act
The Independent, U.K. : West will Soon Forget Horror Over Childrens' Slaughter
Daily Mail, U.K.: Yes, Syria is Tragic, British Intervention Would be Madness
The Daily Star, Lebanon: Daylight Massacre in Syria
The Daily Star, Lebanon: Tide Turning Against the Syria Regime
Le Quotidien d’Oran, Algeria: The 'Brutality of the World', According to Putin
Moskovskiye Novosti, Russia: 'Russia's in a Changing World,' By Vladimir Putin
Al-Seyassah, Kuwait: Russia 'Bloodthirsty', China 'Misguided', for Syria Veto
Kochi Shimbun, Japan: In Syria, the U.N. Security Council Fails the World
Hoy, Ecuador: 'Cynical Imperialists' of East and West Clash Over Syria
Estadao, Brazil: Moscow Rescues Assad: Not a 'Travesty,' a 'Humiliation'
People's Daily, China: Give 'Peace a Chance' in Syria
Mehr News Agency, Iran: Supreme Leader Says U.S. Takes Revenge on Syria
Jerusalem Post, Israel: Obama's 'Rhetorical Storm'
Debka File, Israel: First Foreign Troops in Syria Back the Rebels
Zaman, Turkey: U.S. May Be Hiding Behind Russia's U.N. Veto


Second, there are no mass protests against Assad capable of paralyzing political life in Damascus, and no split within military circles. And thirdly, which is very important here: Russia doesn’t base its position in regard to events in one country or another, becoming fixated on any one leader of a particular country; in other words, Russia does not personify the problem.


Those factors aside, during the Syrian crisis, the Russian side has attempted to appeal to its Western partners to learn the lessons of the “Arab Spring” in other countries. Chancellor Bismarck said, “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” Alas, when it comes to the Syrian situation, our American partners refuse to learn - even from their own mistakes. When in early 2011, anti-government protests first broke out in Egypt (which culminated in the overthrow of the Mubarak regime) I wrote a piece in the magazine The National Interest saying that ultimately, if Mubarak is forced out, it wouldn’t mean that the people of Google and Microsoft would come to power with the likes of liberals like Mohammad El Baradei. More than likely, I wrote, such revolutionary processes would lead to one of two outcomes: military dictatorship or the seizure of power by Islamic radicals. Just last Sunday, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi claimed victory in Egypt’s presidential election.


Thus, when the Russian side objects to Western demands for Assad’s immediate withdrawal, it isn’t because Russia is fixated on Assad remaining in power. It is just that the Russian side is trying to maintain some semblance of order over these processes to prevent the spread of violence, chaos, and anarchy. Syria is the most sensitive spot in the Middle East - so sensitive in fact, that the events taking place there could easily spill out into Lebanon, Iraq, and may even spark a conflict involving Iran, Turkey, and/or Israel. So it is a powder keg, and one must take extreme care so as not to add fuel to the fire. And of course, it is extremely important that the process take place within the constitutional framework. And if a change in government does take place in one form or another, it is important that it not become a zero-sum game.




Finally, we come to the most important factor, and one that I sought to draw to the attention of American attendees at the seminar: Oddly enough, it isn’t Russia, but namely the U.S. and its allies who by their actions are provoking increased violence, chaos, and anarchy in the region. Taking an unequivocal stance that can be reduced to a demand that Assad must go, they are therefore raising the expectations and demands of the armed opposition. The latter, recalling the Libya experience, makes radical demands with respect to the current regime. This gives it no incentive to enter negotiations and seek a compromise with the current regime. It demands outside intervention from its Western backers and their allies in the region and the overthrow of the Assad regime by force. Thus, the West, by not offering a political or diplomatic solution to the problem, and by not offering an alternative to the Russia-backed plan of Kofi Annan, is further escalating the conflict.

Posted by Worldmeets.US


Some cause for optimism is that after their meeting in Los Cabos, presidents Putin and Obama issued a joint statement that both parties support the efforts of Kofi Annan and are willing to allow the problem to be addressed by Syrians themselves in peace talks involving all the parties. Time will tell whether the tenets of this statement can be implemented within the framework of an international conference on Syria, as proposed by Russian diplomacy.


*Andranik Migranyan is director of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation.




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[Posted by Worldmeets.US June 28, 6:00am]



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