News / Middle East

    Russia, UN Envoy Call for Peaceful Solution in Syria

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks at a news conference in Moscow.
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks at a news conference in Moscow.
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has echoed a call from an international peace envoy to resolve Syria's civil war through a government-backed national dialogue and political process.

    The Russian foreign ministry quoted Lavrov as telling a visiting Syrian diplomat there is "no alternative" to a peaceful solution of the conflict. It said he made the comment Thursday, in talks with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad.

    In separate remarks to Russian news agency Interfax, Lavrov warned of "bloody chaos" if the Syrian civil war escalates. He said the chances of establishing a transitional government are decreasing, but still exist. Russia is a longtime ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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    International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi gives a press conference at a Damascus hotel on December 27, 2012.International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi gives a press conference at a Damascus hotel on December 27, 2012.
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    International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi gives a press conference at a Damascus hotel on December 27, 2012.
    International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi gives a press conference at a Damascus hotel on December 27, 2012.
    Earlier in the day, international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said any Syrian transitional government must represent what he called "real change" and hold full powers to lead the country to new elections.

    Lavrov said the solution should involve a broad inter-Syrian dialogue and a political process based on an action plan made in Geneva that won international approval in June. The Russian foreign ministry said Makdad expressed appreciation for the Russian position.

    A spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition said the main exiled opposition group will accept any solution that excludes Assad and his aides.

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    Speaking at a news conference in Istanbul, Walid al-Bunni said the Syrian leadership has blood on its hands and must leave the country. Western powers and their Arab allies have backed opposition demands for Assad's ouster.

    Assad

    The Geneva plan called for a transitional government to be established but did not explicitly bar Assad from being a part of that process.

    The envoy Brahimi was speaking in Damascus after several days of talks with Syrian officials and domestic-based opposition groups. Brahimi did not say whether Assad should be a part of the "real change" that he seeks.

    He also said a Syrian transition period must not lead to a collapse of the state or state institutions. The Algerian diplomat is due to visit Moscow on Saturday to seek Russian support for his ideas.

    Brahimi also denied reports that Russia and the United States had agreed to a Syria peace plan.

    "Some said in Syria and outside Syria that I have come here to market a Russian-American project. I wish there were a Russian-American project. There is no Russian American project and hence I didn't come here to market it," he insisted.

    Moscow's concerns

    Russian commentator Fyodor Lukyanov told VOA that Russia wants to avoid a scenario in which Syria's majority Sunni rebels quickly take power after deposing Assad's minority Alawite leadership.

    "Not only Alawites, but basically all minorities are very much afraid of Sunni victory, because they are almost sure that a new majority will take revenge on everybody who was in power before, or associated with power," he explained.

    Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, said Moscow believes the victory of one side over the other will not bring stability to Syria.

    "Because then the other side will just fight for their lives, for survival," he noted. " Now, 300,000 Alawite [troops]are called the Syrian army. In case of a change, they would become a paramilitary militia. That is the difference. The essence of their fight  will be the same."

    Lukyanov said Russia also wants to prevent Western powers from helping to oust another Moscow-friendly Arab leader after they gave military support to rebels who deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi last year.



    • A child uses a megaphone to lead others in chanting Free Syrian Army slogans during a demonstration in Bustan Al-Qasr, Aleppo, Syria, January 4, 2013.
    • Demonstrators step on a picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during a protest against his regime in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district, January 4, 2013.
    • Damaged buildings and shops with members of the Syrian army patrolling in the distance in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
    • Men stand amidst wreckage and debris after a car bomb exploded at a crowded gas station in Barzeh al-Balad district in Damascus, in this handout photograph released by SANA on January 3, 2013.
    • A father reacts after the death of two of his children whom activists said were killed by shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters stand near a fire after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
    • Residents wear masks as they search for bodies after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013
    • Members of the Free Syrian Army stand behind a machine gun turret with a flag reading "There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger" in Aleppo's Bustan Al Qaser district, Syria, January 2, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter asks a child to move away from his house's window as a security measure in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district December 30, 2012.
    • A boy watches men dig graves for future casualties of Syria's civil conflict at Sheikh Saeed cemetery in Azaz city, December 30, 2012.

    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    December 28, 2012 4:38 AM
    Question Mr Sergei Lavrov, do you consider the Russians/Government a friend of the Syrian people? Because the Syrian people don't like friends of Bashar Al-Assad. Please answer Sergei.

    by: Anonymous
    December 28, 2012 4:32 AM
    Do you think for a minute any of the hundreds of thousands of people, that were either a) related to someone Bashar Killed b) related to anyone who was tortured c) related to anyone who was detained d) related to anyone who was displaced .... Would want to make any deals whatsoever with this Bashar Al-Assad terrorist? Whom he and his father has killed more than Bin Laden? I highly doubt it, and I honestly don't blame the Syrians for doing a full job. Bashar needs removal and the world knows it , and Bashar knows it, he won't go, so now it seems he has to be forced.

    And...As far as Russias concern...
    Who cares if Russia is a long time Ally of Bashar Al Assad because that isn't the people of Syria that is just Bashar. It is the people that makes ANY country. Something Russia just can't get throught their thick heads is that the people of Syria will never want Russia on their soil again after this. So really Russia has no say in the matter anymore. Russia will be kicked out for their country of Syria for inaction to extinguish Bashar when they had the chance and could of saved tens of thousands of innocent people.

    Praise to the Syrian people for going through this terrible time while Bashar destroys the country and trys to break the hearts and minds of the Syrian people, trying to force them to like him. The hearts and minds of the Syrian people are unbreakable, if anything, they will become more and more united every day to get Bashar out of Syria, at any cost.

    by: Sunny Enwerem
    December 28, 2012 12:28 AM
    An Interim Government in Syria is a good suggestion but it is like applying medicines after death at this stage and the only way to stop the war is for Assad himself to defect to the opposition if he wants to live to see the free Syria imerge BUT I dought he would so he must fall with the blood in his hands

    by: Sam from: Ghalyoun
    December 27, 2012 11:04 AM
    lakhdar Brahimi is trying to commence a well known process, called stealing people hard earned victory, and making sure the current government stays in power, how much of a failure can he be.
    In Response

    by: Stephen S from: Australia
    December 27, 2012 2:38 PM
    Oh well if the US can forgive Burma's human rights abuses, then they can forgive Syria. Isn't it a crazy old world? And hasn't the US cooperated with some strange people and countries in their history! Such a holy nation, holier than thou' when a diplomatic move is needed.

    "So the West should dictate to elected leaders of Muslim countries about appropriate Islamic values?"

    The West don't give a damn about Islamic values as long as Islamic values do not interfere with Western interests: imperialism, colonialism, exploitation.

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