Kerry: Russia Enabling Assad 'Terror'
Kerry: Russia Enabling Assad 'Terror'
JAKARTA — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Russia is enabling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's campaign of "terror" against his own people. In Indonesia, Kerry called on Moscow to do more to help bring about a political solution to the conflict through talks in Geneva.
Secretary Kerry said Assad's forces continuing to barrel bomb civilians is evidence that the Syrian government is still pursuing a military solution to more than three years of violence.
"I regret to say they are doing so with increased support from Iran, from Hezbollah and from Russia. Russia needs to be a part of the solution and not be contributing so many more weapons and so much more aid that they are in fact enabling Assad to double down," said Kerry.
Efforts by international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi to find a political solution to the violence have so far failed, in part, Kerry said, because Russia is not doing enough to support these talks in Geneva.
"Russia, on several occasions, has stood up publicly with me or in other places and said they are committed to that transition government, to the Geneva Communiqué, and Geneva One. And yet we have not seen the kind of effort to create the dynamic by which that can be achieved," said Kerry.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said it is opposition supporters, among them the United States, who are delaying progress by focusing unrealistically on forcing President Assad from power.
"When all who backed the opposition taking part in this process urged to make the implementation of the Geneva Communiqué in all its entirety a subject of the talks they in fact had in mind one thing only - regime change," said Lavrov.
Unable to accomplish that, Lavrov said, opposition backers are now stalling.
"Under many different pretexts there are attempts to derail the Geneva peace talks. Initially they wanted to derail the peace settlement on the chemical weapons issue. When that failed, they started trying to politicize the issue of the humanitarian crisis," said Lavrov.
Opposition leader Ahmed Jarba is trying to increase his standing among rebel fighters inside Syria. However, the fractious groups behind him are divided over potential power sharing with members of the Assad government, said U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.
"The coalition itself does not have the kind of legitimacy that I think would permit it to speak on behalf of all groups which oppose the Assad regime," said Heydemann.
Experts point out that Assad supporters see little reason to negotiate in Geneva, as they believe government forces now have a military advantage over the rebellion.
Neither the government nor its opponents have yet agreed to return to peace talks. In this recess, Kerry said, the international community must determine how best to find a political solution to the violence. He also said that greater cooperation from Russia will be key.
Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai (left), who was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education, talks to Syrian refugee Mazoon Rakan, 16, about Mazoon's experience in the camp during her visit to the Zaatri refugee camp, in Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, Feb. 18, 2014.
A Kurdish fighter from the Popular Protection Units (YPG) carries his son as he walks along a street, Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014.
A man walks near a crater as smoke rises from a burning truck after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, al-Inzarat district, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014.
Civil defense members and civilians extinguish the fire from a burning truck after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, al-Inzarat district, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014.
A civil defense worker puts out a fire after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, al-Inzarat district, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014.
Children run across a street to avoid snipers in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria Feb. 16, 2014.
A Free Syrian Army fighter runs for cover from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo, Feb. 16, 2014.
A Free Syrian Army fighter rests with his weapon in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo, Feb. 16, 2014.
A boy holds his baby sister, who survived what activists say was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, Feb. 14, 2014.
Rescuers walk on the rubble of collapsed buildings after what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, Feb. 14, 2014.