04:21 GMT +315 October 2019
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    From left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama.

    West Looks to Russia to Atone for Failed Policy Over Syria

    © AP Photo / Yves Herman
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    Washington and its allies are increasingly looking to Russia, as well as Iran, in order to clear up the mess it has caused in Syria, according to commentators. Even former UK Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox says the US would welcome Russian intervention.

    Amid growing calls for military intervention against ISIL in Syria — with French forces running bombing missions this week — the focus has been put on conflicting western foreign policy over the country.

    Washington, London and their allies had wanted to see regime change in Syria, with President Bashar al-Assad overturned. However, with civil war having over-run the country, the West is increasingly coming under pressure to support Assad in taking on his enemies — including ISIL, following Russia's lead.

    Andrei Klimov, a Russian senator and deputy chairman of the senate's committee on foreign affairs said:

    "This not about us as a government, this is about stability in the region."

    "We have some interests in Syria and it is not a secret that there is a special technical military point in Syria where there is some Russian equipment. We have some obligations to support them with some equipment and, for this very purpose, we need some instructors, experts. This is in favor of stability in the area.

    "If we are speaking about changing the government of the Syrian country, this is in the hands of the people of the country. It is not possible to do that from Washington or London."

    Dr Liam Fox, former Defense Secretary of the UK said he did "not entirely disagree" with Klimov's view. "It's very clear that Russia does have a strategic interest in Syria and has invested several billion in the port of Tartus, which — were it not ever to have Crimea — would be its only warm-water port.

    "They [Russia] are also very worried about the rise of fundamentalism, because that is a threat to stability and they see [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] as the best way of controlling Sunni extremism in the region, and particularly ISIL."

    Fox said Russia also perceives "weakness" in the West's approach to Syria. "Especially in the Obama White House. It's been very clear for some time that there's been some debate going on about whether the West — even at its most basic — sees the maintenance of a unitary state as being paramount, or whether it would tolerate Syria splintering into Kurdish and otherwise Sunni sections. That seems to be changing. 

    "There seems to be a view, increasingly that it should be a unitary state. If that is going to be the case, the question is: do you work with Assad in the short term, even if you don't accept him in the long term, or — as some voices in Washington have said — you need to see the overthrow of Assad and a different regime there and the creation of safe havens?"

    Stronger Russian Case

    "The lack of very clear directions — especially from Washington, I think, is increasingly making the Russian case stronger," Fox told the UK Today radio program.

    "There are even those (I was in Washington a couple of weeks ago) who say, if Russia were to take a greater role, perhaps the Americans would actually welcome that, because it would diminish the pressure on the United States."

    This is a view shared by Finian Cunningham, the author and prominent expert in international affairs.

    He told Sputnik: "I think it reflects the disarray in [the West's] policy towards Syria. They have inflicted a war on that country, going back the last four-and-a-half years and it's created all sorts of horrendous problems: terrorism, the refugee crisis — the region is reeling with instability.

    "The West has — in effect — owned up to their destructive policies and are now having to reach out to other potential partners — Russia, Iran —  to salvage a situation that they are responsible for."

    Related:

    Slipping Syria? What the US is Losing and Russia is Gaining in Damascus
    International Contact Group on Syria May Hold Talks in October
    Putin to Address 70th UN General Assembly Monday
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    Middle East, Daesh, airstrike, Western meddling, military action, jihad, radical Islam, extremism, terrorism, civil war, conflict, war, intervention, 70th UN General Assembly, Syrian crisis, United Nations, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, Syria
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