Battleland

Washington: Time To Dump Bashar, Moscow

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Demonstrators burn a Russian flag and the flag of Lebanon's Hezbollah party in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli earlier this year during a protest against the Syrian regime and its deadly crackdown on dissent.

The U.S. and Russia have been sparring all week over competing United Nations Security Council resolutions on Syria. The U.S. would like a mandate under Chapter 7 of UN law to intervene more robustly in what the Red Cross and other international aid groups are now calling a civil war between Bashar al Assad’s regime and opposition groups.

Russia has long opposed such a move, arguing that no state has the right to impose regime change on another state. After all, if the West can throw out any leader they don’t like or who moves to repress opposition, what might they do if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to, say, move tanks into Chechnya and fire on crowds there?

Regime change is never popular with the regimes, or their backers, in question.

(MORE: Inside the Russian Weapons Bazaar That is Powering Syria’s Regime)

From Kosovo to Libya, Russia has increasingly felt encroached upon by the West. And given that Syria is home to the port of Tartus, Russia’s last remaining naval base in the Middle East, there is some question about spheres of influence as well.

So how does the U.S. convince Russia to change course in Syria and stop protecting Assad and the regime?

The White House and State Department have been in full-court press mode with their Russian colleagues in recent weeks. The Russians “have indicated for some time now that they are not invested in Assad specifically but rather are concerned about an outcome that maintains stability in Syria,” says deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. “They certainly have not closed the door to a political transition from Assad. The hurdle for them has been understanding and appreciating that there’s no way to achieve stability with Assad still in power and that’s what we’ve been trying to convince them of in our conversations.”

Adds another senior administration official: “The argument that we and our friends and our partners on Syria have been making to the Russians is that their interests in Syria will be jeopardized by Russian actions. The regime is growing weaker. The Russians are undermining their influence in the next Syrian government by their policies today,” the official said. “We’ve told them that they need to rethink their calculus.”

To that end, the Administration encouraged opposition groups to visit Moscow, which some did last week. They’ve also been emphasizing the agreement between opposition groups in Cairo on a unified transition plan — the first time all the political groups have managed to agree on the rough strokes of what a post-Assad government might look like in Damascus. If the opposition forms a government without Russia, it could derail the process, which is why the U.S. has been encouraging Moscow to become more involved in envisioning a post-Assad Syria even as they prop him up.

(PHOTOS: The Syrian Arms Race)

“We’re encouraged by what we’ve been hearing of late,” says the senior official. “We think it’s important that Russians talk… After all, they are burning Russian flags, not American flags, not just in Syria but in Cairo and the Gulf.”

So, are the Russians likely to give ground at the UN?

We’re not quite there yet. Part of the problem is the U.S. doesn’t have that much leverage with Russia these days. “The U.S.-Russia relationship isn’t’ worth very much at all,” says Fritz Ermarth, a former National Intelligence Agency director and Russia expert. “They regard the U.S. as a major problem or obstacle in their reconstruction in their status as a global power and they’ve learned from recent experience their senior officers can threaten us with nuclear attack and Washington doesn’t even hiccup,” he adds. “They’re not sacrificing anything in their relationship with the U.S.” by supporting Assad.

That said, with the Russian economy tottering and highly dependent on oil prices remaining high, antagonizing the Gulf States — who essentially control the price of oil — could have serious repercussions for Moscow.

“To our great regret,” Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday, “there are elements of blackmail. We are being told that if you do not agree to passing the resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, then we shall refuse to extend the mandate of the monitoring mission,” he adds. “We consider it to be an absolutely counterproductive and dangerous approach, since it is unacceptable to use monitors as bargaining chips.”

MORE: Is the Syrian Regime Using Rape as a Tactic of War?

12 comments
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freefallingbomb
freefallingbomb

To the poster “Igwe Kalu Kalu Ogba”

You wrote: “Indeed, the Russians are the best allies. Very loyal.”

I don't know if you just were ironical or not (saying this in the middle of all these Americans...), but I'll answer you in any case.

You may think that I'm contradicting myself or that I'm splitting hairs, but I'm not. I never said that Russians are great allies. I don't know that. After all, too few countries still try to partner up with Russia on a broader basis, because the U.S.A. are still too much “en vogue” (= too fashionable, socially too presentable) for that today. At least in the minds of our conformistic, uncultivated, short-sighted, self-degrading, unrepresentative, European leaders, who frantically avoid antagonizing the U.S.A. about everything. Bilderbergers, all of them. The U.S.A. are very jealous, very possessive, very spoiled (“either she or me!” Like women think) and very vindictive, too. Most Western leaders reckon that increasing business, political alliances and prestigious projects with Russia just isn't worth the trouble with the U.S.A. afterwards.

That's the only reason why Russia still has so surprisingly few friends today. But this is clearly NOT their fault.

Russia ALONE could supply EVERYTHING to us Europeans that we'll ever need: Ores, energy, business, food, Culture, scientists, an intelligent, tough, cheap workforce, military protection (Europe + Russia = an IMPREGNABLE Eurasian Armed Force!), and of course Russia's greatest promise to the World: Space. The Future. Not Capitalism. Who needs Americans?

My point in my previous post is that Russia doesn't stab into its friends' backs, and I really do believe that. With relief.

Quite obviously, so far it was easier for China to persuade the U.S.A. to sacrifice its half-century old, Capitalistic, strategic ally Taiwan over Coca-Cola's and Apple's investments in their Communist régime than to take a bone out of Russia's mouth (N.A.T.O.'s eastwards expansion, N.A.T.O.'s “anti-Iranian” missile shield around the Russian border, civilian nuclear deals with Iran, respect for Syria's internal affairs, Russia's claim to the Arctic circle, etc.), especially if Russia is fond of that bone.

Nobody has tried yet, but I would still not ignore the curled flews of a bear. It just isn't worth the trouble afterwards.

LoudRambler
LoudRambler

 The title is very unclear.

 It is impossible to figure out that either Washington tells Moscow to dump Bashar, or Washington wants to dump Bashar and Moscow.

Jay Newton-Small
Jay Newton-Small

 Alas, I don't write the titles. It's meant to indicate that Washington is telling Russia to dump Assad. JNS

Vic
Vic

Russia tolerated the ethnic cleansing of Bosnians being committed by Milosevic, Karadzic and Mladic. Did we hear Russia condemn Mladic in the Screbernica massacre? Without NATO intervention, Bosnia could have been  deleted from the world's map.

Russia is not in business of saving innocent lives unless they are Russian lives. Their moral values are so far off. Putin's uncooperative posture is pure political jealousy of NATO's unity and harmony.  Russia is isolated now, more than ever.

LoudRambler
LoudRambler

 You know, you're not right.

 Russia is not in business of saving innocent lives even if they are Russian lives, but the said Russians are "mere" Russians, not well connected ones.

 Russia have tolerated well the oppression of ethnic Russians in Central Asia very well, as long as well connected boys could make a lot of money if they looked the other way.

 There, I helped you.

Unwelcome_Truth
Unwelcome_Truth

So how does the U.S. convince Russia to change course in Syria and stop protecting Assad and the regime?

A better question would be how the Russians and Chinese can convince the rogue US empire, its satellite gangster regimes in Europe and its entourage of Arab hereditary dictators to put a stop to their illegal arming of Syrian rebels and oblige their Syrian clients to accept a negotiated political solution.

The premise of this Time propaganda piece is that the US empire's "solution" of imperialist war against Syria to impose a puppet Sunni-extremist regime is really a solution which needs to be accepted by the world, rather than the recipe for mass destruction, mass murder and political chaos which it is in reality.

That premise is grotesquely dishonest and stupid, given the historical record of the blood-soaked rogue empire's previous wars of aggression against Arab states, criminal wars which like this current one were conducted behind a smokescreen of official lies and hate propaganda willingly retailed by the empire's servile corporate mouthpieces like Time.

LoudRambler
LoudRambler

 "Satellite gangster regimes in Europe"? Who would that be?

 Oh, and your post is complete BS. No, absolutely not all friends of US are great countries. However, most of the "friends of Russia" are crazed dictatorships. How about Belorussia, where the current lifetime president jailed two of the guys who dared to run against him during the election? Or how about Turkmenistan, where the lifetime leader included the study of his glorious life work Ruhnama into schools at the expense of sciences, built his statues that followed the Sun and mandated that schoolchildren would have to work the cotton fields instead of studies during harvest season?

 So, who would the good friends of Russia be, I wonder?

freefallingbomb
freefallingbomb

One big advantage of Russia's friendship over America's friendship is that one can be fairly sure never to be backstabbed by friendly Russia. Iran is maybe the only exception to that rule, but there are countless examples on the other side, too, from Taiwan's government to Mubarak's Egyptian government, from the loyal Hmong guerillas in Southeast Asia to America's former ally in Afghanistan, the Talibans: You choose.

You should be ashamed to be an American!

freefallingbomb
freefallingbomb

 Come one here, be reasonable: How can you – rightly, in my opinion – accuse the U.S.A. of being

(quote)

“a rogue empire with satellite gangster regimes in Europe and its entourage of Arab hereditary dictators and Imperialist wars against Syria to impose a puppet Sunni-extremist regime, which is the recipe for mass destruction, mass murder and political chaos, a premise that's grotesquely dishonest and stupid, given the historical record of the blood-soaked rogue Empire's previous wars of aggression against Arab states and of criminal wars like this current one that were conducted behind a smokescreen of official lies and hate propaganda willingly retailed by the empire's servile corporate mouthpieces”

(unquote)

and be surprised to realize that the roguest nation that ever existed, the U.S.A., also has lots of willing, conscience-less collaborators in its “free” Press?

Every evil, tyrannical nation finds volunteers to invent heretic lies for them – why should the U.S. Americans be any different?

Still, you're wrong about the “illegal arming of Syrian rebels” part: NONE OF THIS (= no shipment of illegal weapons!) would ever pose the slightest security threat to Assad's Syria if the Syrian people didn't let themselves be destabilized so INCREDIBLY EASY by a few tweets and fake Facebook profiles created in “israel” ! Because that's how it all started, and, sorry to say it, but this clandestine, subversive but successful Facebook campaign will be an eternal monument to... Arab stupidity.

Sorry to say it. (I also wished things were different)

JDSillig
JDSillig

Exactly what business is it of the UN to interfere in Syrian affairs, much less pick a side in a civil war?     US  support of the Al Qaeda backed SNC has served only to inflame the violence and encourage the terrorists seeking to install an Islamic theocracy in the place of the current secular  government to flock to Syria.    

Thankfully Russia and China seem to have some common sense, because the current US administration does not.


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