Moscow supports neither Syria's Assad nor opposition

Francois Hollande, who took the leadership position in the "crusade" against Bashar al-Assad, on Tuesday met with the Russian prime minister and confirmed that Russia has established "good working relationship" with Assad. Given that the French president is performing the job for Washington, Russia would benefit from talking about Syria with the American leadership.

While Francois Hollande is a left wing representative, his position on Syria continues the tradition of the right ex-French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, who was the initiator of the Western military operation against Libya. It was Hollande who called for direct intervention in Syria in August, and who convinced the West to agree and implement the Qatari plan to form a new governing body of the Syrian opposition. The so-called National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was established on November 11 at a meeting in the Qatari capital Doha. France was the first country to recognize its legitimacy.

Western media immediately forgot about the former main opposition, Syrian National Council, while 13 combat Islamist groups that engage in the armed struggle against the Syrian government forces have kept loyalty to it and refused to recognize the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.

Hollande was not discouraged, as it was important to find a loyal representative of the West in post-Assad period. SNC with the pronounced extremist Islamist orientation was not suited for this purpose. It has been long known that money talks, and it began flowing into the accounts of the new organization. The French Government decided to provide financial assistance to the organization in the amount of 1.2 million euros.

The French President also raised the question of the no-fly zone over Syria and supply of NATO missiles "Patriot" to Turkey to protect them. He did not think that it meant militarization of the border with Turkey and escalation of tensions in the region. Ambition prevailed over reason, although later came an understanding of the fact that the supply of arms to Syria conflict zone where there is a UN embargo would not be that easy. The French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius asked the EU to lift the embargo for the Syrian opposition, "at least for defensive weapons." This is where the zealous "Crusader" was forced to slow down. The EU and the U.S., recognizing the new organization, however, retained Assad's legitimacy. U.S. President Barack Obama said the weapons would not be delivered to Syria, and a representative of the Department for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU said that in terms of supply of weapons all aspects, up to practical ones, must be reviewed. This meant that so far there was no such intention.  

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev prior to his visit outlined Russia's position on the Syrian issue in an interview with Agence France Presse and Le Figaro. He stressed that Russia "supported neither the regime of Bashar al-Assad, nor the opposition." Interestingly, the Kremlin cannot define clear wording. First, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "we do not support the Assad regime." Then in the recent talks with Jordanian counterpart Nasser Dzhaudoy he said that "Russia will never support calls for Assad's departure." Now there is a new interpretation of Medvedev's position. It is time to decide one way or the other, because such ambiguous language (and translation issues) provokes Hollande and others for extremism against Syria.

What does Syria without Assad mean for Russia? It will be pro-Qatari (Islamist), or, at best, pro-Western, which is not the same thing. It is no accident that a British Foreign Secretary John Wilkes said that Qatari kept their cards close to their chest and it was obvious that they wanted the same thing. Under the first scenario Russia would lose everything, and elimination of Russian citizens may even begin. Under the second scenario, there will be a military base as a minimum and contracts for supply of arms at a maximum.

However, the vector of actions of the Russian side is also clear. There should not be a violent overthrow of Assad. This is the only acceptable option for Russia, because it ensures the continuity of the contractual framework. The Russian prime minister described the support by France of the political power "in direct opposition to the current officially recognized government" as "absolutely unacceptable."

Medvedev arrived in Paris on Tuesday with a working visit, and was accepted personally by Hollande. French newspaper Le Figaro suggested that the president wanted to make another attempt to persuade the Russian side to take a softer position on at least one of its initiatives. He had some grounds for optimism. Medvedev, as president, approved the purchase of four helicopter carriers "Mistral", and he was the one who unwisely gave in to the West on the Libyan issue. "He took a more tolerant (than Putin) position during the Franco-British military intervention in Libya," said the French Le Mond

But the results of the meeting were disappointing for Hollande. Medvedev said at a news conference that Russia and the legitimate Syrian government established a "good working relationship." It sounded like a mockery. 

The question arises, what interest would France have in Syria to justify such aggressive behavior of Hollande? There is none. The U.S., however, does have its interest. Obama does not want to get involved in a direct and complex conflict with Syria and found a henchman, said U.S. professor William Engdahl. "I think that France is playing the role of a henchman. Historically, the French ruling elite, starting from Napoleon, always sought internationally to achieve a position that did not meet its capabilities," the analyst told Russia Today. "And I think that even now, beginning with Sarkozy, it overestimates its own abilities, with catastrophic consequences for France."

Lyuba Lulko 


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov