Recep Erdogan stressed that Syria’s fate must be determined only by the Syrian people.
This has been Russia’s opinion from the very beginning of the Syrian crisis, political scientist Alexey Malashenko from the Russian-American Carnegie Center says.
“In any case, the situation in Syria is determined only by Syrians. So far it so happens that neither Russia can persuade Bashar al-Assad to compromise nor the West, Americans or Kofi Annan can pressurize the opposition to behave more reasonably. I believe that the talks in Moscow could be followed by a new wave of pressure on both sides involved in the Syrian conflict.”
This approach to solving the Syrian crisis is contained in the Russian version of a UN Security Council draft resolution. Moscow insists on equal pressure on both sides. On the other hand, this enables Moscow’s political opponents to state that in this way Bashar al-Assad would receive additional trump cards from Moscow’s hands. This is the opinion of political scientists Fyodor Lukianov, Editor-in-Chief of the Russia in Global Affairs magazine.
“Russia’s position mostly remains unchanged. It is quite stable but I can’t say that it finds understanding with our partners, especially in the Arab countries. Russia repeatedly has to prove that it stands for the settlement principles and not al-Assad’s regime. Frankly, no one believes this, even though it is true. Russia’s persistence is not caused by the situation in Syria as such but by the fact that Russia, according to what Lavrov said two days ago, sees the Syrian settlement as a model for the future.”
Kofi Annan’s shuttle diplomacy, including his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and consultations in Washington, has given rise to many interpretations of his mission. Russia unequivocally supports it but the escalation of the Syrian conflict gives rise to sharp criticism of Annan in the West and some Arab countries. Accusing the intermediaries of what is going on in Syria is the same as scolding the mirror because the face does not look its best in it. This is Fyodor Lukianov’s opinion:
“It is unfair to accuse Kofi Annan of incompetence in achieving a settlement in Syria. He has been given a task which I believe no one could fulfil because he has to deal with forces and countries that maintain contrary opinions. Annan has experience in attempting to coordinate more than just the interests of several countries, he is used to dealing with all UN member-states.”
Still, there is an urgent need to persuade all the conflicting parties to start talks, political scientist from the Carnegie Center Alexey Malashenko believes.
“The opposition recently announced a full-scale civil war in Syria which means that in this situation it will be extremely difficult to persuade the opposition to compromise and agree to contact Bashar al-Assad. For this reason, I believe that a lot, if not everything would depend on putting pressure on the opposition. They ought to be persuaded at least to give up the idea of a civil war.”
Kofi Annan’s trip to Moscow is explained by the fact that the West would actually like the Syrian opposition to behave itself, Alexey Malashenko believes. Otherwise, the US, the UN and all other friends of the Syrian opposition would be held responsible for the massacre it would launch in the country after defeating al-Assad. The Russian expert does not doubt that such massacre is more than likely after Bashar al-Assad is forced to step down.