Home > Uncategorized > U.S. Syrian Policy In Tatters

U.S. Syrian Policy In Tatters

Voice of Russia
November 1, 2012

US policy on Syria in tatters
Dmitry Babich

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[T]he United States government, as well as the governments of France and Great Britain, the three main Western enthusiasts of “regime change” in Syria, simply did not envisage a situation when, several months since the beginning of an all-out armed civil conflict, the Syrian drama would still continue. Instead of a brief melodrama, which Washington expected, Syria is facing a tragedy without an end. Assad retains the loyalty of the army while the jihadist presence among the rebels is becoming more and more visible. Interestingly, this situation was envisioned by Russia and China, those very countries that Mrs. Clinton “cannot wait” to see sidelined in decision-making.

[L]istening to Moscow in any way on Syria would mean a terrible loss of face for Mrs. Clinton, who was very stubborn in her non-acceptance of any of Moscow’s warnings. In spring this year, she even threatened Russia with “consequences” if Moscow does not toe Washington’s line on Syria. And this factor makes the start of peaceful negotiations among the warring parties in Syria unlikely until Mrs. Clinton steps down…So, the slogan “Clinton should go” may be better suited for our times than her old mantra of “Assad should go.”

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Recent statements of US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, reveal a strange dichotomy in her plans on the Syrian front.

On the one hand, Mrs. Clinton said during her trip to the Balkans that America “could not wait” until Russia and China change their position in the UN’s Security Council, a position blocking outside military intervention in Syria. On the other hand, Mrs. Clinton made public her disillusionment with the Syrian National Council (SNC), saying that SNC should no longer be considered the “visible leader” of the opposition. It should be noted that the US and other “Friends of Syria” (a group of countries allied to the US in their desire to see a removal of the current government of Syria by all means) earlier this year proclaimed the SNC “the only legal representative of the Syrian people.”

All of these moves leave an impression of chaotic improvisation and not of a coherent policy. If the SNC is no longer in the West’s good graces, then who is going to rule Syria if and when Assad indeed “goes,” as the United States stubbornly demands? Besides, the SNC may not want “to go” as Mrs. Clinton suggests: thanks to arms supplies from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, as well as thanks to the so-called “non-lethal” aid from the US and the EU, it grew into a powerful force with jihadist overtones, whose actions are hard to predict. The Washington Post reports that Qatar and Turkey continue to support the SNC, even though the SNC may not even send a representative to the U.S.-sponsored gathering of Syrian opposition groups in Doha.

Obviously, the United States government, as well as the governments of France and Great Britain, the three main Western enthusiasts of “regime change” in Syria, simply did not envisage a situation when, several months since the beginning of an all-out armed civil conflict, the Syrian drama would still continue. Instead of a brief melodrama, which Washington expected, Syria is facing a tragedy without an end. Assad retains the loyalty of the army while the jihadist presence among the rebels is becoming more and more visible. Interestingly, this situation was envisioned by Russia and China, those very countries that Mrs. Clinton “cannot wait” to see sidelined in decision-making. Moscow and Beijing had been talking about the extremist elements inside the rebellion since the start of the so-called “peaceful demonstrations” in Syria last year. But Washington, Paris, London and other Western capitals attributed the warnings of Russia and China to their being “undemocratic” or simply trying to shield their allies in the Middle East. But if Moscow and Beijing proved to be right on their warnings before, why not listen to them for once?

Here is what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had to say: “It is like daydreaming to speculate on the subject, to the effect that if the [Syrian] government is overthrown everything will fall into place. If this is a priority for somebody, bloodshed will continue, and for quite a while, too.”

That does not mean that Russia is idealizing Assad, whom Mr. Lavrov criticized on several occasions for postponing the democratization of Syria. But, obviously, some of the current jihadist enemies of Mr. Assad are much worse – for Syria and for the whole world – than the acting Syrian president. And they shouldn’t be allowed to decide the fate of Syria and its president, such is the position of Moscow. “Assad’s fate should be decided by the Syrian people,” RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.

Unfortunately, listening to Moscow in any way on Syria would mean a terrible loss of face for Mrs. Clinton, who was very stubborn in her non-acceptance of any of Moscow’s warnings. In spring this year, she even threatened Russia with “consequences” if Moscow does not toe Washington’s line on Syria. And this factor makes the start of peaceful negotiations among the warring parties in Syria unlikely until Mrs. Clinton steps down. She promised to do it soon after the November 6 presidential election in the United States – whatever the latter’s results. So, the slogan “Clinton should go” may be better suited for our times than her old mantra of “Assad should go.”

Syrian opposition outraged with Clinton’s remarks

The Syrian National Council is outraged over the recent remarks by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who said that “the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition, and they can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard.”

A source in the opposition claims the new US-backed opposition council which is to be announced in Doha next week is an attempt to undermine trust in the SNC.

Clinton also expressed her concern over rising extremism in Syria but the SNC leader Abdel-Basset Sieda blames the global community for this saying that it hasn’t provided enough support to the people of Syria.

British Middle East representative Jon Wilks shared Hillary Clinton’s concerns and wrote on Twitter that “some SNC figures saying SNC restructuring next week in Doha will be enough to rescue the opposition’s credibility. Not in Syria it won’t”.

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