14 February 2013, 14:14

Russia suggests expanding Syria Action Group

Russia suggests expanding Syria Action Group

Russia has called for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran to be included into the Syria Action Group.

Spelling out the proposal on Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that the group should convene in an enlarged format within the shortest possible time to prevent Syria from collapsing into more chaos.

The group first met in Geneva last June, bringing together the secretary generals of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, the foreign ministers of Russia, the United States, Britain, China, France, Turkey, Iraq Kuwait, Qatar, and the European Union’s foreign policy chief.

Russia sees the Action Group as an effective tool to halt the bloody conflict in Syria.  

Russia invites Syrian gov't, opposition reps to meet in Moscow 

Russia offers itself as the venue for talks if the Syrian authorities and the opposition decide to meet for talks to end the protracted conflict.

This country’s special Mideast envoy Mikhail Bogdanov said on Wednesday that Russia’s position on the issue was fully in line with the provisions of the Geneva accords.

He also said Russia was looking forward to the earliest possible consultations with the Syrian foreign minister.

Voice of Russia, TASS, RIA


Assad unexpectedly strong, his opponents in disarray

Nikita Sorokin

Having seized several airbases and hydropower dams, the Syrian rebels are still lightyears away from unseating the regime of President Bashar Assad. The opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatyb has been even offering peace talks. What is behind the current stalemate in Syria?

For an explanation, The Voice of Russia turned to Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Russia in Global Politics’ journal Dr Fyodor Lukyanov:

"Assad’s regime has simply proved to be much stronger than was expected. His army, which consists of both Alawites and Sunnis, has not split along confessional lines and remains firmly behind him. Even the elimination of a number of key ministers in last year’s bombing of security buildings in Damascus failed to put paid to Assad’s rule. In the West, meanwhile, many are turning their backs on the Syrian opposition. Events in other Arab Spring countries have led them to fear that anti-Western Islamists may ultimately take the helm."

Politology Professor of Moscow’s High School of Economics Leonid Isayev disagrees:

"I believe the impression of a stalemate is spurious. The Syrian rebels and their Western and Arab backers are simply turning to a war of attrition, which Assad is unlikely to win, given his inferior resources compared to his opponents. The anti-Assad camp has changed tactics, but is goals remain the same."

Dr Lukyanov also sees a new tactical ploy behind the initiative for a broad-based transitional Syrian government, discussed between Mr al-Khatyb and international Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. In his VOR interview Wednesday, he said he believes the Arab foes of the Assad regime now hope to topple him through democratic elections, a strategy which very well worked in Tunisia and Egypt. Indeed, Syria is Sunni-majority country, in which a religious minority cannot hold on to power by democratic means. The Sunnis would prevail, giving the Sunni monarchies a freer hand in the Greater Middle East.

This strategy, however, may badly misfire, bringing unruly Islamists to power in Damascus.

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