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Syrian chess: The latest move! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The past few days of the Syrian crisis have seen what appears to be a chess game with all pieces moving to surround al-Assad and Russia, and indeed all of al-Assad’s allies, in a comprehensive manner. This is something that has caused the Russians to become emotional and confused. After we heard reports that the Russians and Americans were meeting in Geneva, along with Lakhdar Brahimi, to discuss the Syrian crisis, US President Obama announced Washington’s recognition of the Syrian National Coalition as the representative of the Syrian people. This took place on the eve of the Friends of Syria summit in Marrakesh, which for its part also recognized the Syrian opposition coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people. Whilst during this summit itself, Saudi Arabia announced that it would be donating $100 million to support the Syrian people.

The American recognition of the Syrian National Coalition, by itself, forced the Russian Foreign Minister to issue a statement that betrayed his frustrations. This statement read that Moscow was “surprised to learn that Washington has recognized the national coalition of Syrian revolutionary forces as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people” adding “we therefore conclude that Washington has decided to bet on this coalition securing victory by force of arms!” This statement suggests that Moscow is feeling deceived and embarrassed; for at the same time that the Russians were meeting the Americans to negotiate over Syria, President Obama announces his recognition of the Syrian National Coalition which means that Washington is only interested in negotiating with Moscow over one issue, namely the departure of al-Assad! So here we see the moves that have been made on the Syrian chessboard: US recognition of the Syrian National Coalition, as well as that of the Friends of Syria in Marrakesh, the public Saudi donation, which means that Riyadh is prepared to do everything in its power to help the Syrians against al-Assad’s crimes. All of these moves have surrounded al-Assad politically, in the same manner that he is besieged in Damascus by the Syrian rebels, whilst Moscow has been embarrassed at all levels; it set the conditions for negotiations over the Syrian crisis, whilst al-Assad’s value – for the Russians – is plummeting!

The story does not stop here, for the latest moves on the Syrian chessboard perhaps pushed Russia to issue the most remarkable statement of all. This was issued by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister [Mikhail Bogdanov] who acknowledged that al-Assad is losing control of the country “more and more”, adding “the victory of the Syrian opposition cannot be excluded.” Al-Assad’s impending fall is something that is confirmed by two very important statements; one was issued by NATO Secretary-General [Anders Fogh Rasmussen] who said that “the Damascus regime is approaching collapse” adding “this is only a matter of time”. As for the second statement, this was issued by Iraqi Finance Minister [Rafa al-Essawi] who said that the al-Assad regime will likely fall within a matter of “weeks”. When we compare what is happening to a game of chess, then this is best confirmed by the manner in which the US State Department rushed to highlight the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister’s statement that the rebels will ultimately emerge victorious in Syria, saying “we want to commend the Russian government for finally waking up to the reality and acknowledging that the regime’s days are numbered.” The US State Department spokesperson added “the question now is: will the Russian government join those of us in the international community who are working with the opposition to try to have a smooth democratic transition?” Of course, this is an American move to embarrass the Russians and surround them on the Syrian chessboard in order to push Moscow to stop supporting al-Assad, who requires $1 billion a month to withstand the Syrian rebels and their revolution!

In conclusion, al-Assad is under siege, Moscow is embarrassed, whilst Iran – whether we are talking about its Supreme Guide or president – is keeping silent, which tells us that we are facing the final stages of the Syrian chess game.