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MOSCOW, July 4 (Itar-Tass) - The Syrian crisis, which continues already for more than a year, is about to see an unexpected turn, the Kommersant daily reported. The newspaper learnt that the Western countries are talking Russia into giving a political asylum to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Moscow does not agree on this step yet. Meanwhile, the experts did not rule out this outcome of the Syrian crisis. Moreover, President Assad put it clearly for the first time that he does not reject the variant of his voluntary resignation.
A reliable source in the Russian diplomatic circles told the newspaper that the Western countries, primarily the United States, are taking active efforts to talk Moscow into giving a political asylum to the Syrian leader. This fact disavows completely “some recent Western media reports that Russia decided to grant a political asylum to Assad and he had already transferred nearly all his savings to Russia,” he said. “We did not have and do not have any plans to give an asylum to Assad,” he pledged.
In fact, the approaches of Russia and the West on the problem of Assad do not differ quite cardinally according to official statements of the sides. “We do not protect Assad,” a source close to the Kremlin pledged to the Kommersant daily. “The Syrian president missed his chance. The chances that he will stay in power, are few, about ten percent. We do not come out against the Syrian opposition as well. But we oppose a foreign armed interference in Syria,” the source said.
Thus, Moscow does not intend to support Assad at any cost, but insists that the Syrians themselves should agree about his possible resignation, as it was the case with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh last spring. Assad’s rivals have serious problems with such scenario.
The lack of unity among Assad’s rivals plays into the hands of the Syrian authorities. A Russian diplomatic source explained that this factor makes it possible to ask a quite logical question to Assad’s associates: with whom we should talk to, which position to hear? The situation may be changed with a Moscow visit of the Syrian opposition delegation headed by well-known politician Michel Kilo. According to experts, Kilo, who was in the ranks of internal (acting in Syria) and external (based abroad) opposition, can become a compromising figure, around which Assad’s rivals will unite.
The Syrian president facilitated the task of the opposition. In an interview with the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet on Tuesday he put it clearly for the first time that he is ready to quit his post, if he makes sure that this step will result in the conflict settlement.
Thus, the newspaper concluded that Assad’s leaving to another country, including Russia, is quite probable. “Moscow can give a political asylum to Assad, if the country realizes that the West is not ready to provide the guarantees of security to the Syrian leader and his family,” senior research fellow of the Centre of International Security at the Institute of World Economics and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Sotnikov stated. The expert also did not rule out that “Moscow will have negotiations with Belarus not to stir up the public opinion in the West, and will talk Minsk into giving an asylum to Assad, as Lukashenko is quite ready for this step.”