Tuesday, December 25, 2012

As Assad's Fall From Power In Syria Approaches, Russia and Iran Take Different Paths

Asharq Alawsat, which bills itself as "The Leading Arabic International Daily" is reporting, US - Russia reach agreement on al-Assad ouster: Opposition sources:
Senior sources in the opposition Syrian National Coalition have revealed that Moscow and Washington have reached an agreement on the Syria crisis, informing Asharq Al-Awsat that this includes “a settlement regarding the departure of President Bashar al-Assad from power”. However the source added that “sticking points in this agreement include the precise mechanism of al-Assad’s departure and handover of power.”

The source confirmed that this US - Russian agreement which was reached during meetings between officials in Dublin and Geneva last week “stipulates that a settlement has truly been agreed”. The senior Syrian National Coalition source added that these meetings "led to two options being outlined for the Syrian President, namely either that he is a partner in transferring power and enjoys international protection, or the transfer of power is negotiated in his absence and he loses the [international] protection that can be gained by agreeing to a settlement.”
Credit: Wiki Commons
Of course, the fact the "opposition" is the source for this does not make this true. I've also read sources that point out that until verified, it could be that reports of the Assad regime using poison gas could be a ruse in order to goad the West into intervening sooner.

Meanwhile, the 2 main supporters of Syria seem to be going their separate ways in regards to the Assad regime and its fate.

On the one hand, Russian Vladimir Putin is quoted as saying "we are not concerned about the fate of al-Assad’s regime. We understand what is going on there," and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said the Syrian government's forces are "losing more and more control and territory... we cannot rule out the victory of the Syrian opposition." Things have gotten so bad that Russia is backtracking on its original position, with Putin reported as claiming Russia did not see itself as a "defender" of the Assad regime but merely that Russia wants to see a democratically elected government established in Damascus.

Meanwhile, Iran cannot afford to give up on its only real ally in the Middle East:
Tehran has detailed a six-point peace initiative that does not include the ouster of the al-Assad regime, but instead calls for “an immediate halt to violence and armed action under the supervision of the United Nations.” The Iranian peace initiative also calls for sanctions against Syria to be lifted, the start of a “national dialogue”, the establishment of a transitional government and free elections.
Of course, what Iran is actually doing in Syria while calling for peace is another story.

It will be interesting to watch Russia and Iran compete for the resultant government after Assad's fall from power is complete.

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