The Russian intervention in Syria has now led to a rupture within NATO: With Slovakia it is the first time that a NATO-member is openly standing by Russia. German foreign minister Steinmeier meanwhile tries to bring Iran and Saudi-Arabia to the negotiating table to further a diplomatic solution.
This article originally appearead at DWN, exclusively translated for South Front by Frank Jakob
Robert Fico, Primeminister of the NATO-member Slovakia does not categorically reject the Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict. “Whether it is the Americans attacking IS targets or whether it is the Russians, in both cases it’s the same to me”, the social democrat said on Saturday on Slovakian state radio. He said he wouldn’t let ideology mislead him. According to Fico a solution in the conflict could only be achieved by including longtime leader Bashar al-Assad into the process.
Russia continued with its air strikes against IS during the weekend. “Firstly we are defending our national interests and secondly we are acting in accordance to the local government”, said head of government Dmitri Medvedev in an interview with a Russian TV channel. Medvedev also distanced himself a little from president Assad: “He is the legitimate president but we are not over there to fight for a particular politician. The people should decide who leads Syria”, he said in an interview aired on Saturday. The Russians already said during the starting phase of their intervention that they would not back Assad no matter the cost. However, they reject the outside attempt to oust an elected head of state with force in a violation against international law.
According to the Minister of Defense in Moscow the Russian air force has flown 40 new attacks during the last 24 hours. “49 terrorist targets were destroyed in the act”, sad General Major Igor Konashenkov. The terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) has changed its tactics due to the bombings und is now “decentralizing” is ammunition depots and command centers. Despite that the strike planes identified and destroyed numerous positions, Konashenkov said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called upon Iran to help the struggles for bringing the Syrian war to an end. “My wish is for Iran to use its influence with the government, Assad and its surroundings so that we can go the first steps towards a de-escalation of the war”, Steinmeier said on Saturday during a visit to Tehran.
All attempts to bring Syria and other regional powers like Turkey or Saudi-Arabia to the negotiating table have so far failed. Steinmeier will travel to Saudi-Arabia on Sunday, Iran’s biggest rival in the region. Meanwhile Chancellor Angela Merkel is travelling to Turkey.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Dshawad Sarif was basically open for cooperation in the search of a solution for peace in Syria. His country would be willing to play a “constructive role” and engage in talks with all its neighbors.
Steinmeier call upon both countries to engage in mutual talks: “It is no secret that our position is not congruent in every regard. But we have a common interest to bring the slaughter to an end so that Syria will remain whole as a state.” Sarif said regarding Assads future. Accodring to him one focused too much on the fate of “individuals” in the past. He spoke in favor of keeping governmental institutions intact. “The people will decide who will rise and who will fall in Syria.”