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MOSCOW, February 17. /ITAR-TASS/. The United States is trying by all means to get rid of Syrian President Bashar Assad. That is why the US authorities are shifting the blame for the ineffective second round of the Geneva-2 conference and ongoing civil war in Syria to him, an expert with a Russian think tank said in an interview.
This was the way Pavel Zolotaryov, deputy director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for US and Canada Studies, assessed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s accusations against Assad in an interview with Itar-Tass.
Kerry, on a visit to Indonesia, said Monday that “Assad is trying to win this on the battlefield instead of coming to the negotiating table in good faith." He also told journalists in Jakarta: “The regime stonewalled. They did nothing except continue to drop barrel bombs on their own people and continue to destroy their own country,” adding that he regretted the Syrian leadership was “doing so with increased support from Iran, from Hezbollah and from Russia.”
“Shifting the blame for supplying weapons to one of the conflicting sides to Iran and Russia, the United States keeps arming the Syrian opposition through Saudi Arabia and Turkey,” Zolotaryov said.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Saudi Arabia is ready to provide Syrian opposition forces with state-of-the-art armaments, including portable air defense systems (Manpads).
“Rebel commanders and leaders of the Syrian political opposition said they don't know yet how many of the Manpads and antiaircraft missiles they will get. But they have been told it is a significant amount. The weapons are already waiting in warehouses in Jordan and Turkey,” says the WSJ article published on February 14.
Zolotaryov said Kerry’s accusations against Bashar Assad, Iran and Russia are also evidence of intra-party struggle in the US Congress. “The Republicans do not miss a chance to criticize (President) Barack Obama for the lack of progress at the Geneva-2 conference and force him to make confrontational steps concerning partners in the Syrian settlement.”
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recalled today that in line with an unspoken principle of labor differentiation, Russia was expected to “contribute to sending a delegation from Damascus to Geneva, whereas the United States was supposed to fulfill the task to ensure representativeness of opposition forces. In practice, we have one of opposition groups that only represents part of the external opposition.”
“Lack of representativeness and amenability of the Syrian opposition caused the zero result of the Geneva-2 talks. The Syrian opposition in Geneva was represented by some strange people without powers, whereas Damascus sent its official representatives,” Vyacheslav Nikonov, a lawmaker from the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, told Itar-Tass.
He said “Assad’s positions at the Geneva talk became considerably stronger, and that is what the United States does not like.”
“Washington originally believed Assad was the devil incarnate. That’s why the US logic regarding the Syrian crisis remains unchanged: Assad must go. Russia has a different goal - to counter the spread of Islamism beyond Syria. The positions of Washington and Moscow do not coincide, that is why politicians exchange barbed criticisms,” Nikonov said.
Asked whether Washington is ready to leave the trek of negotiations and return to a military scenario, State Duma deputy said “such a scenario has never been removed from the US agenda.
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