Original by Friend published on his livejournal blog; translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad has conducted his first foreign trip since the start of the war (in other words, 2011) visiting Moscow in order to hold talks with Putin. One can judge the content of the discussions by the international commentary (a number of actors already spoke out, from Saudi Arabia to the United States), but Assad said what’s most important. We quote:
“Naturally, everyone understands that any military action presupposes further political steps. Equally naturally, our shared objective ought to be implementing that which the Syrian people wish to see in their country’s future. One should also keep in mind that striking at terrorists is necessary mainly because one must fight terrorism, but also because terrorism is a genuine obstacle on the road to a political solution. Naturally, the whole nation wants to participate in deciding the fate of their country, not only the leadership circles. I would like to give my thanks one more time to the Russian people for the help it is providing our country and express hope that we will prevail over terrorism and continue to work in concert on rebuilding the country in the economic sphere, the political sphere, and also when it comes to ensuring everyone’s peaceful coexistence.” http://www.kremlin.ru/events/president/n
Assad is outlining the following course of events:
1) Defeating the IS and other quasi-khalifates, and restoring control over the whole territory of Syria. So that the “entire Syrian people” could participate in point 2.
2) Political steps aimed at forming Syria’s new government. This may include not only the Alawite nucleus but also other negotiations-suitable forces. Moreover, this process will naturally entail regional forces growing stronger. Such as the Kurds and the Sunnis who are ready to enter into a dialogue with Damascus.
3. Restoring Syria’s close collaboration with Russia. This means a qualitative improvement of our position in Syria, and therefore in the Mediterranean.
Here’s what other actors are saying about this:
“Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad could remain in power until the temporary government is formed. This announcement was made by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir after a meeting with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Riyadh. “The world community could accept Assad’s authority until a temporary governing entity is formed.” Al-Jubeir also said that the Saudi kingdom welcomes the prospect of establishing such an entity “in order to preserve Syria’s state institutions.” “There is no future for Assad in Syria and everyone knows this,” added Steinmeier. The Saudi minister stated separately that if Iran wants to participate in the peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict, “it should withdraw its forces from Syria, stop supporting al-Assad with arms, and also withdraw Shia militias such as the Hezbollah.” http://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/2359603
The Saudis and the Germans are therefore prepared to accept Assad if he promotes a political transition. But the process of transferring power is only possible through a national vote, and all the parties agree on this. Which in turn implies restoring control over Syria’s whole territory. Such control means destroying the Islamic State and other terrorists. If Damascus establishes full control over the country, it means a total defeat for Western policies, and question of what will be the name of Syria’s president is no more than a face-saving measure.
Saudi Arabia and Germany had radically different views on Iran:
“Concerning Iran;s involvement, German foreign minister said that Tehran is an important player in the region which should “play a constructive role in resolving the Syria conflict.”http://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/2
Iran’s strengthening is the most worrisome prospect for the Gulf states. It’s clear that strengthening is unavoidable. It’s only a question of what form it will take. Here a lot will depend on the Gulf states’ negotiating position, because the more inflexible are the Persian Gulf monarchies in this ultimately losing struggle for them, the stronger the Iranians will emerge in the end.
“The US administration is not demanding the current president of Syria Bashar al-Assad to step down in the near future. This was confirmed at the Monday briefing by State Department deputy press secretary Mark Toner. “We are not saying he should leave tomorrow”, Toner said to elaborate on Washington’s demand that Assad should leave the political stage in order for a new government to be formed. “We are clearly signalling that Assad need not leave tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.” Nevertheless, Toner continued, ultimately from the US point of view Assad will have to depart. Moreover, the US government believes Assad cannot be part of the transition process. At the same time, Toner couldn’t answer the question how long would the transition period last.”http://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/2
360523The US is making statements which are similar to those of Saudi Arabia and Germany. But their position is less stable.
The Turks and the British are freaking out more than everyone else, although they too are not saying anything that Assad didn’t already say:
“Syria needs a transition process which would ensure Assad’s departure from power, said Turkey’s Prime Minster Akhmet Davutoglu on Wednesday. “The most important thing is that peace returns to Syria. We need a transition process that would ensure Assad’s departure. That process ought to be accepted by the Syrian people. As to Assad’s visit to Moscow, it would be better if he stayed there for a long time so that the Syrian people got some rest from him,” Davutoglu said. He added that Turkey’s Syria policy is clear and Ankara is continuing political consultations. http://ria.ru/syria_chronicle/20151021/1
“The political transition in Syria will “sooner or later” include Assad’s departure, said UK’s Foreign Secretary Philipp Hammond. He also said that creating safety zones would be inappropriate, and that there are some 80 thousand fighters who are not supporting either the Islamic State or al-Nusra.”http://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/2
Then there’s the following information:
The Turkish newspaper Milliyet notes that on Tuesday the US proposed a peace plan to all interested parties, including Russia. It includes a half-year transition period with Assad nominally remaining in charge, and then a transfer of authority to the temporary government. http://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/2
The State Department spokesman also mentioned a six-month term for Assad. What is more, the transition terms seem to coincide: the US made its offer on Tuesday, and Assad arrived in Moscow also on Tuesday. Which means there is a highly complex negotiation unfolding (it’s clear that the US plan did not wholly originate with the Americans).
Any plan which posits IS suppression and restoring the national states of Iraq and Syria is beneficial to all the actors. But it also means that the US started a war, then failed to bring the destruction to its logical conclusion and in the end delivered the region to Russia. Will this outcome suit US elites? Yes, everyone in the Greater Middle East is ready to negotiate with the US at the earliest available opportunity (no need to maintain illusions on this score). But the US will no longer be trusted like they were trusted before, and Russia’s position will be made stronger by the negotiations.
However, the US, with British, Turkish, and other assistance and participation, has not spent over decade on developing the khalifate project (the IS nucleus consisting of Saddam’s officers already appeared in 2004 at the Camp Bucca located close to the border between Iraq and Kuwait) for it to dump the project right now in order to restore the pre-existing order which will weaken the US position.The objective was the reformat (chaotize) the Greater Middle East and with it the whole world (by transferring the chaos into the EU, China, India, and the Greater Far East).
That’s why the US overthrew pro-US regimes in Greater Far East.
That’s why the US supported the quasi-khalifate.
And now they’ll abandon their own project? Don’t believe it.
That’s why we should expect a big non-classic war (the “Great Game”), which Assad came to Moscow to discuss.
J.Hawk’s Comment: It would be fairer to say that the US and other powers fomenting unrest in Syria have come to realize that which they already came to realize in Ukraine, namely that they don’t have a ready answer to Russia’s ability to deny them the maximum endgame. Therefore it is now a question of what can be salvaged from the game (and it has to be salvaged sooner rather than later, before the Russia-led coalition solidifies into an alliance) in a way that is face-saving on the eve of a US presidential election. For that reason, it is no accident that everyone concerned agrees that Bashar al-Assad will sooner or later step down as Syria’s president. Obama gets to say he scored a victory. However, al-Assad’s departure does not necessarily imply a fundamental change in the way that Syria is governed.