News / Middle East

Clock Ticking for Russian Political Solution in Syria

In this Jan. 25, 2005 file photo, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a signing ceremony in the Kremlin, Moscow.In this Jan. 25, 2005 file photo, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a signing ceremony in the Kremlin, Moscow.
x
In this Jan. 25, 2005 file photo, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a signing ceremony in the Kremlin, Moscow.
In this Jan. 25, 2005 file photo, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a signing ceremony in the Kremlin, Moscow.
James Brooke
MOSCOW - Russia is Syria's biggest ally. Over the last year, the Kremlin has painted the Syrian revolt as a proxy war between East and West. Now with Syria slipping more and more into a civil war, can Moscow use its influence over Damascus to forge a political solution? 
 
Syria’s ambassador to Russia told reporters in Moscow Thursday that “armed terrorist groups” are committing massacres in order “to excuse foreign intervention, foreign interference and buffer zones.”
 
Ambassador Riyad Haddad said that 1,500 Syrian soldiers have been killed in the two months since the cease-fire announced under the Kofi Annan peace plan for Syria.
 
On Monday, Hervé Ladsous, the head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, said Syria is now in a civil war.
 
But blaming the escalating violence on Western-backed terrorists is music to many ears in Moscow, a close ally of Syria’s ruling Assad family for the last 40 years. Long the largest source of arms for Syria, Russia maintains its only naval base outside the former Soviet Union at the Syrian port of Tartus.
 
In Moscow, Russian analysts casually dismiss reports of government massacres of Syrian civilians as part of a “Western media war.”
 
This view is shared by Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Institute of Near Eastern Studies. He has his own solution to Syria.

“The only way is the same that was during the Vietnam War - Yankee Go Home. In this time, we can say, Europeans, Americans, Gulf monarchies and all other idiots trying to play a game in Syria, including Turkey, can take their luggage, go home, and sleep well," he said. 
 
Asked about Russia, he said Moscow has no involvement in Syria’s internal conflict.
 
This week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton charged that Russia is shipping attack helicopters to Syria. This shipment would come after at least three Russian ships delivered arms to Syria in recent months.
 
Next week, Syria is likely to be discussed when Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin have their first presidential-level meeting. The meeting may well be tense. Mr. Putin is never known to have used in public the word "reset", a code word for the détente policy favored by his predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev.
 
Carnegie Moscow Center’s Masha Lipman predicts that progress on Syria will fall victim to Mr. Putin’s desire to block Washington at every turn.

“The distrust, the suspicion that America is a threat, that America is there to weaken Russia remains the basis of their relations, and given the inauspicious environment these days,  inside Russia, outside Russia, I think the contradictions come to the fore," she said. 
 
With the Annan peace plan due for renewal by the United Nations in one month, many analysts say the clock is running out before Syria descends into the kind of sectarian civil war seen in neighboring Lebanon in the 1980s.
 
In the 15 months since the fighting broke out in Syria, the opposition calculates that 13,000 people have been killed.
 
In Moscow, Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, writes that Russia and Iran must act now “to prevent [an] avalanche that would bury their interests in Syria.”
 
He writes that the solution is for the two nations to push for a gradual change of power from the Assad family.
 
Despite the anti-Western fireworks often heard in Russia on Syria, Moscow may be coming around to that view.
 
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave a press conference in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi. Lavrov stressed that Russia’s ties and interests are with the Syrian people, not with the Assad clan.
 
Now, it remains to be seen if Moscow can move fast enough to broker a political solution, before Syria descends into a full-fledged civil war. 
 

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: kafantaris from: USA
June 15, 2012 11:44 AM
Why exactly do we expect Russia to act differently than it has on Syria? Can we not see that Syria is a microcosm of Russia? For decades a strong ruler has governed both countries -- effectively denying citizens a say so in their government. If Russia helps fix this in Syria, it might have to fix it next at home.
Why would Putin want to do that at when Syria has become a diversion at home where he needs to play up Russia's strength in the world? Better to stick with the old script and keep on raiding the offices of political opponents or drumming up bogus charges against businessmen.
Forget Russia then. When the ground begins to shake below your feet, you stick with your friends.
Though the steamroller of the Information Age is getting closer and closer to their nose, the Putins, the al-Assads and the Ayatollahs of this world are too drunk with power to get out of the way.

by: StigP in Sweden from: Sweden
June 15, 2012 4:56 AM
"Lavrov stressed that Russia’s ties and interests are with the Syrian people, not with the Assad clan."
So the attack helicopters that Russia is providing Syria belongs to the Syria people.? And all the weapon systems that Russia has sold to Syria also belongs to Syria people? Lavrov is such a jerk that he deserves a visit in Homs and live shoulder to shoulder with people who has been robbed of their weapons that was meant for them...

by: vasili basayev from: Москва́
June 14, 2012 10:24 PM
Russia hates Turkey people. weapons for Syria to kill Turk

by: chuy n from: New York
June 14, 2012 9:42 PM
China is no joke. Arabs are joke !! arabs all the same - syrian egyptians palestians all same arabs - really ugly

by: Bassam Ismail from: Allepo
June 14, 2012 9:37 PM
Voice of Amrica, listen, Bashar is going to attack Turkey

by: Mike
June 14, 2012 7:38 PM
Putin is the criminal person like Assad and of course Putin has supported and will always support dictators around the world. Throne of the Russian Tsar Putin is staggered, because the opposition in Russia has increased its strength. So the world can not to get support from Putin in the dissolution of the Assad regime in Syria. The West needs to stop empty diplomacy with Russia and to show its strength, as it did in Libya.

by: r.b. from: u.s
June 14, 2012 7:20 PM
thats all china does is TALK,what a JOKE THEY ARE

by: shafiq suliman from: Lebanon
June 14, 2012 5:49 PM
Russian weapon influx to Syria is aimed at Turkey. once again the Turk has proven himself treacherous and without honor so now he will learn a lesson in civility

by: JoeBob from: Planet Earth
June 14, 2012 5:14 PM
Why do you say America? Its the United States.. America is 2 continents and contains many countries...

by: MissClarity from: USA
June 14, 2012 3:30 PM
Make money on sale of helicopters while supporting the Russian belief that ethnic cleansing is good. A two-fold philosophy that is a win/win for Russia and a win for Syria.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs