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Has Lavrov bidden farewell to al-Assad? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The best thing that can be said about the latest press conference held by Russian Foreign Minister [Sergey Lavrov] is that this included an invitation to negotiate over al-Assad’s future. This is the most important thing, despite all the controversies that were raised during this press conference, particularly as these controversies are easy to answer and refute, such as Lavrov’s talk about foreign interference in Syria, for the question that must be put to Mr. Lavrov here is: what are Russian “experts” doing there? In all certainty, they are not there to support the unarmed Syrian people!

However this is not important, what is most important in Mr. Lavrov’s statement is that this makes it clear that Moscow is aware that Annan’s initiative, or shall we say “ruse”, has failed, and this is due to al-Assad himself, of course. Lavrov’s statement also indicates that the situation on the ground in Syria is beginning to move in a direction contrary to Moscow’s hopes, for al-Assad is not capable of destroying the revolution, whilst he is no longer in control of much of Syria and the fire of the revolution is blazing in all of Syria’s cities, including Damascus and Aleppo. Therefore we find that the al-Assad regime has reached the point of despair, and that is why it is carrying out one massacre after another, which led to the recent noticeable movement on the international scene. All of this has, no doubt, been the subject of concern for the Russians, and the reason why they have taken action today, whether this is in the hope of finding a new opportunity for al-Assad – although this is impossible – or in order to launch the negotiations. This is what is clear from the statements of Mr. Lavrov, which shows that Moscow has initiated the negotiations, and whoever wants to take part in this must come forward, whilst we must also note the manner in which Lavrov spoke about the Saudi role, and its leadership position in the region.

One might say: what about Iran involving itself in the situation in Syria? It is clear that this is nothing more than an attempt to promote the conditions for the negotiations, in other words: if you don’t want Iranian involvement, then this is the price! Therefore regardless of what Mr. Lavrov said about Iran, the Iranians have nothing to do with the Syrian situation, for Syria is not Iraq or Lebanon, and it must not become so! Iran’s role is based on supporting the tyrant of Damascus, and the Syrians have not revolted in order to negotiate with Tehran. The Syrian people have launched their revolution in order to rid themselves of a tyrant, not replace him with another agent of Iran! So when Lavrov warms of a Sunni – Shiite war [in Syria], it is Iran that is most responsible for inciting this! Since the Khomeinist revolution, Iran’s most effective weapon has been that of sectarianism, and this is a weapon that has been used across the entire Arab world, particularly in Syria, and this is something that cannot be denied.

Therefore, the statements made by Mr. Lavrov, and his signaling the possibility of al-Assad resigning if this is what the Syrians want, is nothing more than a signal to others, including Saudi Arabia in particular, that Moscow has opened negotiations on the future of al-Assad, for it would be impossible for the forthcoming Russian summit to discuss, for example, reconciliation with al-Assad. It is natural that many have felt frustrated by Mr. Lavrov’s statements, for some thought that he would openly announce that Moscow has taken the decision to stand with the Syrian people, rather than procrastinating and continuing to defend a tyrant, however unfortunately that is politics, and to be more precise, this is Russia’s policy in our region. For Russian will not accept the departure of al-Assad without negotiations guaranteeing a “price” for this, and from here the question that must be asked is: who will negotiate with the Russians? And what is the price?