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Russia racing against time in Syria - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It seems that the Russians are now in a race against time in Syria. Despite Russia and Syria’s denials of the Russian Ambassador to Paris’ claim that al-Assad wants to negotiate a civilized exit plan, the same Russian Ambassador has again returned to talk about al-Assad’s exit, citing the same version as before!

Are we talking about the Russia as presented by Sergey Lavrov and the Russian envoy to the United Nations, or is there another school of thought within the country that believes there is no longer any room to protect al-Assad, especially after the gains achieved by the Free Syrian Army (FSA)?

Despite Moscow using its third veto in the UN Security Council, thus blocking the implementation of crucial international resolutions against al-Assad’s crimes, Alexander Orlov, the Russian Ambassador to Paris, returned to say once again that it is “hard to imagine” Bashar al-Assad remaining in power, believing that his departure must be organized in a “civilized manner”, along the lines of the transitional process in Yemen. The Ambassador, in an interview with the French newspaper “Le Parisien”, said: “Yes it is hard to imagine he will stay (in power). I think he understands this himself but it should be organized in a civilized manner, as was done for example in Yemen”.

Thus, either we are dealing with Russia actively promoting different points of view, especially as the Russian ambassador in this instance was speaking from the capital of France, a country whose foreign minister recently called upon the Syrian rebels to accelerate the formation of a transitional government in their country, and likewise Paris today is playing an important role against the al-Assad regime, or Russia may be confused about what is happening on the ground in Syria, where Syrian border crossings have fallen into the hands of the FSA, and battles in both Damascus and Aleppo are intensifying, or the Russians are racing against time to give al-Assad a new opportunity. This third possibility is especially pertinent given that the al-Assad security system received a slap in the face with the explosion in the national security headquarters, which claimed the lives of some of the most important figures responsible for spreading terror throughout Syria!

All possibilities are open, but it is certain that it is too late to arrange the departure of al-Assad in a “civilized manner”. All Russia can do today is make al-Assad hand over power to his deputy or army commander, and put him on a Russian plane to take him out of the country, without preconditions or safeguards. By doing so Moscow would allow everyone, in Syria and beyond, to face the accomplished facts. As for negotiating a civilized exit and so on, the window of opportunity in this regard has long since passed, for several reasons: Firstly, no one, inside or outside Syria, trusts Russia or al-Assad today, and furthermore no one cares about the fate of the tyrant of Damascus, which is getting closer to the fate of Gaddafi by the day. Everyone today is preparing for the post-Assad phase, and the situation on the ground does not give al-Assad the same strong playing cards that he once held; the pace of defections from al-Assad’s army is increasing, and the tyrant of Damascus’ control over Syria, its capital and Aleppo, has been truly shaken.

Therefore, there is no more time for Russian maneuvers. If Moscow wants to save what remains of its face in the region, then it should put al-Assad on the next plane to Russia. Moreover, it should also consider arming the FSA, so it can turn the pages of the final chapters of this criminal regime, and continue making arrangements for the post-Assad phase.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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