21 December 2013, 14:18

The West turns its back on Syrian opposition

The West turns its back on Syrian opposition

The prevailing opinion in the West today is that a final victory of the Bashar al-Assad forces is the best of possible scenarios for Syria. European and US officials have not yet been outspoken to that end, but both the EU and the US have started to cut back their aid to the Syrian rebels. Meanwhile, Damascus has been consistently honouring the terms of the agreement on scrapping its chemical weapons. Russia has said it will see to it that the process is safe.

Russia will provide its warships to ensure safe and secure transportation of war chemicals from Latakia to some European seaport, where the chemical agents will be reloaded to a special-purpose US vessel for destruction. This came in a statement by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this week. Later on, the Deputy Russian Ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Vassily Titushkin, said that the Syrian war chemicals would be scrapped off the Italian coast. The presence of the Russian Navy will help avoid provocations by insurgents. Hardly had the agreement to scrap the Syrian chemical weapons been reached in Geneva, when radical fighters said they would prevent it from being implemented. Meanwhile, the West's attitude to the rebels has been changing recently. Officials make it clear that Assad's victory would prove a great boon for Syria. This is what an expert with the Institute for Strategic Studies and Analysis, Sergei Demidenko, says about it in a comment.

"It is now obvious that Bashar al-Assad enjoys the support of a majority of the Syrian population, that radical Islamists have got the upper hand over the opposition (which most scares the West), that the secular opposition is unworkable, incapable of assuming power if the Assad regime should collapse, and unable to counter the Islamists. This is what prompted the change of stance, with the idea long since discussed by the West's diplomatic and political circles. But now it's becoming an official view".

The opposition representatives were given to understand for the first time during a recent meeting of the Friends of Syria Group in London that the West no longer sees a fall of Assad as a precondition for normalizing the situation. His victory is, conversely, seen as the best possible scenario. This is reported by the Reuters news agency with reference to some participants in the London talks. But a spokesperson for the US State Department, Marie Harf, disproved the report shortly afterwards, insisting that the US still believes that Assad should step down and not look for a portfolio in the subsequent transitional government. But Harf's statement hardly reflects the actual stand on the issue of the US government, says the Head of the Foreign and Defence Policy Council Fyodor Lukyanov, and elaborates.

"All sober-minded American experts make it clear now that any scenario for an opposition victory is worse than all the rest. However imperfect President al-Assad might be, Syria was a stable country under him, and, perhaps, it will yet become stable. If Assad is allowed to win, the problem may be put off until a later date. But politicians cannot say this in official statements, because then questions will be asked about what they have been engaged in, in the few past years".

The western countries' change of heart has been prompted by the fact that the most radical groups of Islamic insurgents have advanced to the forefront. They have recently been fighting both the government troops and more moderate opposition forces. Islamists have recently seized arms depots of the Free Syrian Army, causing the FSA leader to flee Syria. Washington and London have said they are cutting back their supplies of non-lethal military hardware to the rebels.

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