International diplomacy has failed to solve the Syrian crisis, and revolution is the only way to end more than a year of bloodshed in the country, Burhan Ghalioun, a senior member of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), said on Wednesday.
“A revolution will solve the problem, not negotiations or diplomatic efforts,” Ghalioun, the former head of the Istanbul-based group, said during a news conference in Moscow following talks with Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov and his deputy Mikhail Bogdanov.
The situation in Syria “has further shifted toward a revolution,” he said, adding that none of the diplomatic initiatives aimed to resolve the bloody conflict in Syria that have been proposed so far “have yielded any concrete results.”
The statement came after UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan visited Syria and its main ally Iran earlier this week in yet another attempt to salvage his peace plan by persuading the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end fighting and launch a dialogue with opposition groups.
The visit came after Annan admitted late last week that the international community had “not succeeded” in resolving the conflict by peaceful political means, and that there was “no guarantee that we will succeed.”
A proposal put forward during a Syria Action Group meeting in Geneva in late June, which stipulates the establishment of a transitional government in Syria to involve both members of the Assad government and opposition groups, so far also remains merely on paper.
Representatives of major Syrian opposition groups declared that they would not negotiate a transition unless Assad is excluded from a future government, a demand supported by Western powers and their Middle Eastern allies and opposed by Russia.
The position of the SNC members seemed uncompromising on Wednesday.
“We demand the departure of all representatives of the current regime, and first of all its leader Assad,” Abdulbaset Sayda, the newly appointed SNC head, said. “Any attempt at reconciliation with the current regime will lead nowhere.”
Russia’s Position Unchanged?
The SNC leaders said they had asked Russia on Wednesday to support a UN Security Council action based on Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows the council to authorize actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention.
But “our points of view remain different,” Sayad said.
“Russian representatives have said that they are not clinging to Assad, that they act in the interest of the Syrian people… but when we go into detail, we see the difference in our positions,” he said.
Russia has blocked Western-led attempts to pass a UN Security Council resolution imposing harsh sanctions on Assad's government. Moscow has said it will not allow a “Libyan scenario” to be repeated in Syria, referring to a NATO military operation that helped topple Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.
Sayda critisized on Wednesday Russia’s arms supplies to Syria and its decision to send a flotilla of warships to the Mediterranean.
“The Syrian regime feels support… it feels that Iran and Moscow are backing it,” Sayda said.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that a Russian naval task force was on its way to carry out naval exercises in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
On Wednesday, Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, the deputy head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said Russian Navy warships will be sent to defend Russian merchant shipping in the event of a possible blockade of Syria.
Meanwhile, SNC representative in Russia, Mahmoud Al-Hamza, said on Wednesday that he believes shifts in Russia’s position were “already underway,” although they are still “very slow.”
“I think they may become more apparent in the next few months,” he told RIA Novosti.
Russia said on Monday that it would not deliver any new types of weapons or sign any military contracts with Syria until the situation there stabilizes, in what some observers described as a sign that Russia’s position was slowly shifting toward withdrawing its staunch support for Assad.
“We are not talking about new arms supplies to that country,” Dzirkaln said. “Until the situation stabilizes we will not deliver any new weapons.”
Earlier on Wednesday Dzirkaln explained that the move did not mean that Russia would stop supplying weapons to Syria under existing contracts.