Syria opposition fails to win Russia over

2012-07-11 14:02

Damascus - Syria's main opposition group on Wednesday failed to convince Russia to drop its support for long-time ally President Bashar Assad, as fresh clashes in Damascus challenged his beleaguered regime.

Russia refuses to shift its controversial position on the crisis in Syria, the exiled opposition Syria National Council (SNC) said after talks in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"We have not seen a development in the Russian position. I was here one year ago and the position has not changed," Burhan Ghalioun, SNC executive committee member and its former chief, told reporters after the meeting.

Sixteen months into a conflict which monitors say has cost more than 17 000 lives, mostly civilians, rebel fighters and regime forces clashed in the Damascus district of Qadam, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

In the commercial hub of Aleppo, at least two soldiers were killed as rebels attacked a checkpoint overnight, the Britain-based watchdog said, adding that 82 people were killed in violence across Syria on Tuesday: Thirty civilians, 26 soldiers and 26 rebels.

Abdel Basset Sayda, the SNC's new head, earlier compared the conflict in his country to the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russian proposal

"The events in Syria are not disagreements between the opposition and the government but a revolution," Sayda told Lavrov, whose country has seen itself cast as the last protector of its Arab ally, Syria.

Underlining the gulf between the SNC and Moscow, Lavrov said Russia wanted to understand in the talks if there were "prospects" of the opposition groups uniting and joining a platform for dialogue with the Syrian government.

On Tuesday, Moscow proposed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria that would extend the UN observer mission in the country without any threat of sanctions, diplomats in New York said.

The resolution was sent to the council's other 14 members ahead of a briefing on Wednesday by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on efforts to revive his peace plan, Russia's deputy UN envoy Igor Pankin told reporters.

Russia is Assad's main ally apart from Iran and has fiercely resisted international action against the Damascus government as proposed by Washington and European powers.

Moscow has repeatedly said Assad's fate is up to the Syrian people and defied calls by the West and the SNC to urge him to step down.

Implicit rebuff

On Tuesday, Annan warned that the conflict could spread across the region as he held talks in Iran and Iraq aimed at shoring up support for his tattered peace plan, starting with an April ceasefire that has failed to materialise.

But in an implicit rebuff, the United States renewed its opposition to any role for Tehran in resolving the conflict.

"I don't think anybody with a straight face could argue that Iran has had a positive impact on developments in Syria," White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters.

More than four months on from his appointment, Annan has proved powerless to end the violence of an anti-Assad revolt which started in March 2011 with peaceful protests.

"People are outraged, and it is clear that the envoy is biased," SNC member Bashar al-Haraki said. "What has he achieved? Nothing except blood."

"We were shocked when he said Iran had to be involved, when Iran is an accomplice to the murders," he said. "Iran has provided experts to monitor communications from the start of the revolt, and later they sent fighters."

Foundering peace plan

After meeting Assad in Damascus on Monday, former UN chief Annan said they had agreed on a new political approach to ending the crisis in Syria that he would put to the rebels.

"We discussed the need to end the violence and ways and means of doing so. We agreed an approach which I will share with the armed opposition," said Annan.

At a meeting of world powers in Geneva late last month, a plan was agreed for a political transition in Syria, which did not make an explicit call for the Syrian leader to quit.

Annan admitted in remarks published by French newspaper Le Monde ahead of his Damascus trip that his peace blueprint has so far foundered.

He has previously expressed frustration that while Moscow and Iran are viewed by some as stumbling blocks to peace, "little is said about other countries which send arms, money and have a presence on the ground".

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-11 14:14

    Thank God for Russia, for Putin!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-11 15:42

      The same immature anti-West core belief

      ali.mutlak.5 - 2012-07-11 16:29

      fred, it will do you better to go and find job rather than staying on news24 with your dirty western propaganda

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-11 16:42

      Totally amazing how an African can praise Africa's worst enemy !! In Africa, the Russians are only good at 'drug trading' and prostitution!! BASTARDS

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-11 17:45

      What does it gain you in an honest debate to blur the facts in this way? In what way is Russia an enemy of Africa?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-11 17:48

      "Dirty western propaganda". Another person blinding himself with racism and prejudices. You're missing most of what is really happening in the world with these beliefs.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-11 19:32

      Fidel, ""blur the facts in this way?"" What re you talking about ??? Show me, where the Russians have invested even ONE ROEBEL in Africa!!! Show me, where the Russians have EVER fed ONE hungry person in Africa!!! Show me, where the Russians have ever treated one of the millions of Africans who is infected with hiv-aids!!! BUT, Who runs the underworld in Cape Town and many other cities in Africa=====The Russians Who controls the drug trade in Cape Town and many other cities in Africa====The Russians Wo controls the prostitution in Cape Town and many other cities in Africa====The Russians Anyone from Africa, who support these BASTARDS should be ashamed !!!!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-11 19:58

      What, Russia's organised crime is the foreign policy of the Kremlin? Ever heard of the Patrice Lumumba University (over 400 000 Africans given scholarships to study in Russia in the 1950s). Russia unlike the west has no need to massage its conscience because it never raped this continent. Russia doesn't need to patronise Africans, it treats Africa as its equal partner, both politically and economically.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-11 20:26

      Fidel, You talking Crap, is endless !! Don't come with your irrelevant history. NOBODY is interested who did what in 1955 !!!!!! Talk about today; 2012 !!!! Again, and now , read slowly !!! The Russians have not invested, even one roebel in Africa. America and Europe investments run into BILLIONS of US and Euros !! The Russians have NEVER YET fed even ONE HUNGRY AFRICAN. America and Europe have donated BILLIONS of US and Euros The Russians have NEVER YET donated even ONE ROEBEL for medicines, to treat and support the ones with hiv-aids and malaria!!! Go and find ONE RUSSIAN, who is involved with desperately needed aid for Africans. BUT There are PLENTY of Russians, who are involved in unerworld activities !!!!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-11 21:21

      You said Russia has NEVER done anything for Africans. Russia has been unable to invest in Africa because: 1) It was never part of the scramble for Africa band of thieves during colonialism, therefore has/had no economic links with Africa. 2) It was sidelined by the west(during the cold war) from having business relations with the African continent because the west had installed pliable dictators after independence during the 1950s to 1970s who were beholden to western powers, 3) Russia was broke after the fall of the Soviet Union and had to build that country first, which is steadily assuming its rightful place amongst nations. Again, Russia doesn't owe Africa anything other than its friendship and camaraderie.

  • langa.kumalo - 2012-07-11 14:58

    long live Putin long live!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-11 15:40

      It's especially sad when a South African supports an unelected regime killing its people.

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-07-11 15:18

    Title should read ,"Russia fails to win Syria over". The last ally of the Assad regime , I wonder why?

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-11 15:53

    The freer world, with the most powerful military alliance on Earth, is doing nothing. It is devoid of real leadership.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-11 16:39

    The Syrian population accepts that the world has let them down. They are more determent than ever , to get rid of FIFTY YEARS of assad TYRANNY. They WILL succeed !!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-11 19:20

      If the opposition was soo small, even a psychopath would have hold elections, to show the world that all Syrian's "love" him. The ONLY reason these assad's have not held elections in FIFTY YEARS, is that they know, they would not even get 5 % of the vote !!!!

      Andrew - 2012-07-11 20:54

      Dictators always hold "elections" to legitimize their rule. Saddam Hussein used to get 98% in his sham elections. In Africa, Teodoro Obiang gets about 96%. It's like the old National Party holding elections without the ANC or other opposition parties. Assad claims about half the population voted for him. Opposition claim less than 3% voted. Besides, in a dictatorship, what use is a parliment that just rubber stamps anything the President says.

  • keith.murphy.9638 - 2012-07-11 18:47

    THese opposition idiots want tp overthrow the Assad regime to be installed by the western vampires and its allies.Long Live Russia

      blackjew69 - 2012-07-11 20:17

      America, Britain, Israel and a few other western countries, who are blood thirsty for OIL from AFRICA/Arabian countries, will always give lots of dollars to a select few and make them destabilize the country, in the name of overthrowing a bad REGIME. HAPPENED IN LIBYA, IRAQ, IRAN, ETC. They tried the same in Venezuela. Now they are in Syria..

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-11 21:29

      This is a list of countries that the USA, with her allies has tried to destabilise by sponsoring contras to overthrow those countries' governments. o 2.2 Syria 1949 o 2.3 Iran 1953 o 2.4 Guatemala 1954 o 2.5 Tibet 1955-70s o 2.6 Laos 1955-75 o 2.7 Indonesia 1958 o 2.8 Cuba 1959 o 2.9 Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960-65 o 2.10 Iraq 1960-63 o 2.11 Dominican Republic 1961 o 2.12 South Vietnam 1963 o 2.13 Brazil 1964 o 2.14 Greece 1967 o 2.15 Chile 1970-73 o 2.16 Argentina 1976 o 2.17 Afghanistan 1979-1989 o 2.18 Turkey 1980 o 2.19 Poland 1980-81 o 2.20 Nicaragua 1981-1990 o 2.21 El Salvador 1980-92 o 2.22 Cambodia 1980-95 o 2.23 Angola 1980s o 2.24 Philippines 1986 o 3.1 Iraq 1992-1996 o 3.2 Afghanistan 2001 o 3.3 Iraq 2002-3 o 3.4 Venezuela 2002 o 3.1 Iraq 1992-1996 o 3.2 Afghanistan 2001 o 3.3 Iraq 2002-3 o 3.4 Venezuela 2002 o 3.1 Ukraine o 3.2 Libya o 3.3 Iraq 2002-3 o 3.4 Grenada o 3.1 Honduras o 3.2 Panama o 3.3 Haiti o 3.4 Yugoslavia

      johnathan.rush.94 - 2012-07-11 21:41

      You forgot apartheid SA,Rhodesia...

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