Russia began a new initiative last week titled “Moscow talks,” which aims to build a preliminary negotiation environment that will find a political solution to the crisis in Syria. A number of key actors representing the Assad regime and the opposition came together in Moscow.
It was announced that four points were agreed upon after the talks. One of them is “to direct humanitarian aid to all areas in Syria urgently;” the other three were in essence “a call” to the international community, namely “blocking external intervention efforts,” “easing economic sanctions” and “the condemnation of Israeli attacks on Syria and Lebanon.”
When the overall situation is reviewed, it is clear that there has been no reconciliation on the core issues of the crisis in Syria. First of all, the nature of the problem has to be defined. Following this, the question that must be addressed is what Russia is really trying to achieve with this initiative.
Russia is, above all, attempting to become a global leader and to overcome its compromised position following the Ukraine crisis. By taking this initiative on the Syria crisis, Russia hopes to gain the moral upper hand on the world stage.
Russia openly supports Assad and, at the same time, is trying to act as an impartial “mediator.” As observed throughout the Moscow talks, Russia’s plan for resolving the conflict involves retaining the Assad regime’s position of power in Syria. Russia is using the Moscow talks to rebuild its distorted international reputation.
Interestingly, the U.S. announced its support for the Moscow talks. Deputy spokesperson Marie Harf stated: “Washington believes Bashar Assad has lost his legitimacy and should leave power, but we admit that the Syria administration has a place on the table for the solution of the crisis.” This might strike one as an ambiguous and obscure statement. However it clearly summarizes the U.S. policy toward Syria.
U.S. foreign policy has been in opposition to the Assad regime. Three months after the insurgency in Syria commenced, the U.S. applied sanctions against Bashar Assad and a number of his officers by emphasizing “human rights abuses and pressure on protestors.” It widened the extent of these sanctions on Aug. 30, 2011. It closed down its Damascus Embassy on Feb. 6, 2012.
On November of the same year, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the Syrian opposition to “reorganize.” Remarkably, in the same call, Clinton also stated that they are working on some of the names and organizations which will replace the new oppositional leadership.
During this period, the U.S. continued to support Turkey’s Syria policy openly. We forget too soon, but the U.S. promised to set two patriot missile systems on the Turkish borders in the last days of 2012. It also officially announced its recognition of the “National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces” as the “legitimized representative” of the people in Syria on Dec. 12. Kerry promised $60 million to help the political wing of the Syrian anti-Assad coalition. The U.S. also sent ammunition to opposition groups during this process.
The U.S. has taken all these steps, but has stated it will not be involved in a more comprehensive intervention. It has been careful not to appear in open opposition with Russia and Iran.
The U.S. has let time take its toll on the Syrian issue without changing its policy. Day by day it loses its initiative.
The Syrian crisis has created a new cold war environment that calls on countries to take sides, the U.S. and Russia being the primary countries. This new environment has given rise to a state of “inaction” which has worked well for the Assad regime. The regime in Syria has managed to escape international intervention via a series of excuses. ISIS is the latest of these excuses and is being used to widen the Syrian sphere of influence.
If this crisis is not resolved soon, it will become a serious
In this article
- Foreign Policy
- Assad Regime
- Bashar Al Assad
- Global Actors | Local Actors
- Human Rights
- Middle East
- Patriot Missile Long-Range Air-Defence System
- Syrian Civil War
- Syrian Conflict
- Syrian Crisis
- Syrian Opposition
- Syrian Regime
- Syrian Revolution
- United States (US)
- US Foreign Policy
- US Sanctions