Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov paid a brief visit to Damascus on Tuesday. They were seeking to find ways for stabilisation in Syria through democratic reforms. Once again Russia attempted to stop the civil war in Syria and this way save a Russian-friendly rule.
“There are all grounds to believe that the signal brought to us to advance more actively in all directions was heard,” Kommersant quoted Sergei Lavrov as saying. Lavrov talked about Russia’s readiness to continue its efforts to settle the Syrian crisis by the means of more active cooperation “with Syria, Syrian neighbours and the League of Arab States.” During Russian-Syrian negotiations President Assad stated that he adheres to the task to stop violence, no matter where it comes, confirmed his readiness for the dialogue with all political forces in the country. Meanwhile, the minister noted that Bashar Assad will soon set the date of a referendum for a new Syrian constitution.
Sergei Lavrov told reporters that Syria asked Russia to influence the opposition groups, which do not enter into negotiations with the authorities as of yet. The Russian minister noted that in this situation opportunities of cooperation with various groups of Syrian opposition are far from being exhausted, but, meanwhile, “those who have a larger influence on them than Russia should work” with them.
Meanwhile, the newspaper noted that the results of the visit could have been more fruitful, if the voting of the UN Security Council was not held last Saturday. Kommersant noted that back on Saturday morning during the negotiations on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed that the resolution will be put up for voting only after the Russian diplomatic visit rounds off in Damascus. During the visit Russia hoped to convince the Syrian leadership to cooperate more actively with the international community and establish cooperation with the opposition. The Russian leadership developed this tactics at a meeting of the Russian Security Council on Tuesday. However, the resolution was finally submitted to the UN Security Council before the time, which Sergei Lavrov and Hillary Clinton agreed upon, after that Russia and China vetoed it down.
Lavrov and Fradkov brought a message from Dmitry Medvedev to Assad, Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted. On the eve of the visit the Russian foreign minister refused to disclose the content of the Russian presidential instructions and Russia’s proposals for the settlement of the situation in the country that he was to inform the Syrian leader about.
The experts noted that Assad’s immediate resignation was not on the agenda, the newspaper writes. However, Assad’s resignation will not result in the end of bloodshed and will only lead to chaos escalation in the country. “Assad’s overthrow will end with nothing and cannot end with anything, but radical Islamists coming to power, disintegration of the country and the massacre of the Shiites and the Christians,” President of the Institute for Middle Eastern Studies Yevgeny Satanovsky believes.
It is quite probable that along with the negotiations on international aspects of the situation Russia shared with the Syrian leadership the confidential information about secret sponsors of armed units of the Syrian opposition. The Syrian newspaper Al-Watan reported that Lavrov and Fradkov, who “has the intelligence information”, could discuss with Assad “the measures, which should be taken for the counteraction to the group of Western and Arab countries and their probable actions against Syria.”
The deputy general director of the Centre of Political Technologies, Alexei Makarkin, who is cited by Moskovsky Komsomolets, believes that Fradkov’s visit presented an opportunity for negotiations not only with Assad, but also with Syrian law enforcers. The final position of Syrian authorities does not depend only on the only one official. The component of collective leadership is quite strong in this country. The law enforcers, which represent the Alawi community, come out against the opposition in the most radical and unappeasable way. Probably, if Assad’s willpower was strong enough he would long ago have agreed to offer the posts in the government to the opposition, when this could have been discussed. But now it is already not discussed. The moment, when similar scenarios were possible, passed. Makarin believes that Russia is losing Syria. Any new authorities, which will replace Assad (this will most likely be the rule of Sunni Muslims), will terminate military contracts with Russia. As it was the case with Libya.