Situation in Syria: five key points. Part 3

25.09.2013

An importent element in solving the Syrian crisis is the draft resolution of the UN Security Council on Syria, which is currently being discussed. The principal dramatic point here is whether or not, or in what way, it will mention Article 7 of the UN Charter, which would authorize the use of force.

One can indeed understand the arguments being put forward by the Americans. I think they are right when they say that without pressure on Syria, the process of scrapping chemical weapons in that country would be put into question. This is true. The question is, what kind of pressure should it be? If this implies the threat of military force, or the use of force in general, then, as I have just said, it would just smack of the Iraqi adventure of 10 years ago, or the Libyan adventure. With such precedents in the past, no head of state, Assad or any other, would agree to scrap chemical weapons. This is why pressure has to be applied. Russia must guarantee that Syria will keep its promise to carry out this process. But at the same time, the Syrian government must receive clear guarantees that if it carries out this plan, there will be no regime change, no military intervention and no targeted strikes.

Here I would like to point out that in my view, Russia cannot - and has no right to - encourage disarmament in Syria unless the Syrian government is given appropriate security guarantees. The problem, as we understand, is that as of last night and this morning, a cheque has already been issued for the overthrow of the Assad regime. The cheque was issued by the Sunni regimes, primarily by Saudi Arabia. Qatar now appears to have moved to the sidelines, playing maybe a less destructive and in some ways a more constructive role. But Saudi Arabia continues to pursue its own strategy in this matter. This is serious money we are talking about, and I repeat, it has already been released. So some might now feel obliged to deliver the outcome that money has been paid for. I think this payment must be frozen as soon as possible. The matter of this cheque must be put aside, if you like, for at least several months, as well as the matter of cash already paid for the overthrow of the Assad regime. Otherwise, there is a risk that the Lavrov-Kerry will be derailed by the tacit (or not so tacit) demands by some Gulf monarchies, especially Saudi Arabia, to change the regime in Damascus. I think this would be unacceptable for Russia. Our country should not get itself into a situation whereby it will serve the interests of these Sunni monarchies.

But the situation is being made even worse by some informal agreements that may have been reached between these monarchies and Israel. These countries are trying to stymie Iran’s plans. Their goal is to take Syria, which has been a staunch ally of Iran under Assad, out of the game under any pretext - be it chemical weapons, humanitarian issues, human rights violations or anything else. After Geneva, Kerry went to Jerusalem. It appears to me that in this respect, there was an absence of a constructive contribution by Israel. Being a regional player, Israel could have made such a contribution. But in fact, Israel is actually stoking up certain destructive trends here.

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