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MOSCOW, October 23. /TASS/. Russia sees future Syria as a peaceful, united and territorially integral state with a prospering economy and infrastructures, restored with assistance from the world community, but this vision disagrees with the stance of the United States and its allies, polled experts told TASS.
Speaking at the international discussion forum Valdai on Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin said a partitioned Syria would be the worst solution of all, which would by no means eliminate the conflict. Putin not just recalled the idea of a wide anti-terrorist coalition he had come up with at the UN General Assembly session, but declared that Syria would need large-scale financial and humanitarian assistance: "We’ve got to identify the format we might employ to push ahead with this work and invite donor countries and international financial institutions," Putin said.
The leading research fellow at the Oriental Studies Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Boris Dolgov, believes that the suppression of the terrorist Islamic State for restoring peace to Syria is a militarily achievable goal. "As politicians and military in Damascus told me just recently the main problem is continued external support for the Islamic state with weaponry and manpower from Syria’s northern neighbor — Turkey. Military people say: ‘Today we may do away with 100 militants only to see another 100 terrorists take their place tomorrow.’ According to Syrian experts, 75% of weapons and militants arrive in Syria across the Turkish border. This route must be blocked. Then there will appear light at the end of the tunnel," Dolgov said.
"As for post-war reconstruction of Syria’s economy and infrastructures, the international financial institutions, in the first place, the United States and the European Union are obliged to help Damascus, because at a certain point they played a large role in bringing about a favourable situation for the emergence of armed Islamist groups that have been terrorizing the local population," Dolgov said.
"Members of Syria’s foreign diasporas have told me they were in the process of drafting proposals for financing the restoration of cities, oil fields and agriculture. It is common knowledge that the authorities in Damascus have promised Russian companies and Shanghai Cooperation Organization member-states certain preferences, should they join the work to implement economic and infrastructural projects in postwar Syria," Dolgov said.
He emphatically dismissed the US, EU and Gulf states’ demands for ousting Syria’s President Bashar Assad from power. "Eighty five percent of Syria’s population resides in the territory controlled by the Syrian government army, which has now gone on the offensive with support from Russia’s air group. Of the 24 million Syrians eight million are the army, security service, and police personnel and their families who support Assad. Also he enjoys the backing of the millions of refugees whom the militants have turned homeless. Demanding the resignation of a head of state who in 2014 was elected under Syria’s Constitution for a seven-year term is nonsense," Dolgov believes.
At the same time he is skeptical the meeting of US, Russian, Turkish and Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministers, due in Vienna on Friday, will have a positive outcome: "Washington, Ankara and Riyadh will obviously be insisting on Assad’s removal. Moscow should have been more insistent to secure an invitation of Iran’s foreign minister to the meeting. The United States dismissed that."
The head of the Middle East Conflicts Analysis Center at the RAS Institute of US and Canada Studies, Aleksandr Shumilin, too, believes that a consensus regarding postwar Syria among Russia, the West and the Persian Gulf states will be hard to achieve.
"Two conflicting positions have clashed. Russia believes that Assad is a victim of aggression and terrorism. The United States and its allies argue that Assad usurped power and turned Syria into a hotbed of terrorism and for that reason he must step down. Russia seeks to support the Syrian authorities in the struggle against the Islamic State. The United States and its allies have been fighting on two fronts — against Assad and against the Islamic State. These two concepts are irreconcilable," Shumilin told TASS.
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