NATO, GCC-Led Arab League “Friends” Of Syria?
Voice of Russia
February 25, 2014
West, AL ‘friends’ with Syria?
US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said shortly before the ‘Friends of Syria’ forum that if they failed to pressure Assad into leaving office, the US would consider other options and a military intrusion couldn’t be ruled out either.
According to Lebanon’s former Information Minister Michel Samah, the main purpose of the so-called ‘friends of Syria’ is to split Syria and drown it in civil war. But backed by Russia and China, Syria might prevent the US and France from establishing their rule in the region.
Hundreds of supporters of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad rallied outside the hotel complex in Tunisia where the “Friends of Syria” Conference opened on Friday. Pro-Assad activists attempted to break into the hotel premises in order to protest against the support of the Syrian opposition by the West.
French representatives said at the conference that they recognized the legitimacy of the opposition National Transitional Council in Syria.
Tunisia’s President Moncef Marzouki suggested giving President Assad and his family immunity from prosecution and urged Russia to grant him political asylum. Moscow and Beijing boycotted the conference. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, just as they did regarding Libya, the so-called “friends of Syria” are forging an international coalition in support of one of the parties to the Syrian conflict.
The Voice of Russia’s Igor Siletsky reports.
Part of the “domestic” Syrian opposition chose to boycott the Tunisia conference as well. The so-called National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change did not like it that the organizers of the forum favored the Syrian National Transitional Council, which was founded in exile. Russia and China declined to attend the forum on the grounds that passing decisions on a country’s future in the absence of its legitimate authorities is inadmissible.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov has this to say.
“To discuss the crisis in Syria without Syrian government representatives is wrong. The key players – the Syrian authorities – should take part in the discussions.”
The ‘Friends of Syria’ Group was set up by France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy after Russia and China vetoed the UN Security Council’s resolution on Syria. A total of 70 countries, including the US, Britain, and members of the Arab League, backed the initiative. According to the organizers of the Tunisia conference, the Group was founded to step up economic and political pressure on President Bashar al-Assad. A military intervention on the Libyan scenario is not on the agenda because it will be hard to mount, first of all, because of the absence of a UN mandate, and secondly, because the Syrian army outnumbers the Libyan one which makes it difficult to predict the consequences of the invasion for Syria’s neighbors.
However, members of the Syrian National Transitional Council insist on foreign intervention. The Council’s representatives demand that the participants in the ‘Friends of Syria’ Conference provide militants of the Free Syrian Army with weapons. Meanwhile, reports by Al Arabiya say that the opposition army is being supplied with small arms and military equipment from abroad. Armed groups of defectors from government forces are supplied with communication and night vision equipment. These supplies are coming from Syrians who live abroad. And the armed groups in question are currently trying to get hold of portable air defense and anti-tank systems.
The ‘Friends of Syria’ Group is pursuing purposes other than those they have announced on the official level. Even though they might not follow the Libyan scenario in detail, the West and the Arab League are clearly following the beaten track, Irina Zvyagelskaya of the Institute of Oriental Studies, says.
“Syria’s opposition forces are fielding tough demands despite being scattered. They all require the departure of Assad as a precondition and won’t agree to talks. They are convinced that they will see their tough agenda through and will seize power without any compromises, only through ultimatums. Syria might plunge into still worse chaos than now which will require foreign interference. And President Assad isn’t carrying out reforms, even though he keeps talking about them.”
However, the Syrian president is determined to pursue the reforms even though his plans are being thwarted by attacks and armed exchanges on the part of the opposition. Syria is holding a nationwide referendum on the country’s new constitution on Sunday. Experts warn, however, that nothing will stop Assad’s opponents now. US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said shortly before the ‘Friends of Syria’ forum that if they failed to pressure Assad into leaving office, the US would consider other options and a military intrusion couldn’t be ruled out either.
According to Lebanon’s former Information Minister Michel Samah, the main purpose of the so-called ‘friends of Syria’ is to split Syria and drown it in civil war. But backed by Russia and China, Syria might prevent the US and France from establishing their rule in the region. The so-called ‘friends of Syria’ have pointed to Moscow and Beijing as countries which are to blame for the Syrian crisis and which ought to review their positions.
This week, the UN has appointed Kofi Annan special envoy to Syria. Mr. Annan has urged all parties to the conflict to cooperate in putting an end to violence and securing a peaceful solution to the crisis. Russia hopes that participation of Kofi Annan will bring about an effective solution to the conflict. [A grave error - RR] Moscow is also prepared to cooperate with the UN, the EU and the Arab League on averting a political and humanitarian disaster in the Middle East region.