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SEMİH İDİZ > The US and Russia must cooperate on Syria

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has a lot to answer for and the hope is that we will see him in the dock one day at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Whether that day will come is not certain, of course. Many will recall how a bloody dictator like Idi Amin, who was said to have killed anything up to half a million people, died happily in Saudi Arabia in 2003 after fleeing Uganda in 1979.

But the world has changed and we did see former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic at the tribunal in The Hague eventually. The point, however, was that Milosevic was also at the negotiating table in Dayton, Ohio, in 1995, and contributed to ending the Bosnian war, even if this did not prevent him from being indicted for war crimes later.

Whatever al-Assad’s future is, it cannot be a comfortable one with the fear of imminent death or imprisonment constantly hanging over him. This, however, is all for the future. The immediate issue in Syria today is no longer to see al-Assad go and hold him to account for his crimes.

The immediate question is to stop the increasingly bloody civil war, and then to ensure that Syria does not fall apart along ethnic and religious/sectarian lines in a way that would cause regional and global instability for years to come.

With the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar backing one side, and Russia, China, and Iran the other, the war in Syria has resulted in a stalemate. This means, for all intents and purposes, that al-Assad is still a factor in the equation, whether we like it or not.

Seeing no end to the present violence, the head of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Mouaz al-Khatib, appears to be inching toward acknowledging this fact also.

He is not only talking with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi now, but is also mentioning the possibility of negotiating with the al-Assad regime, as Moscow and Tehran have been exhorting for some time.

Meanwhile, Washington, through State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, has signaled that it is not averse to the notion of talks between the Syrian opposition and the Syrian regime. Not everyone in the Syrian opposition, and particularly members of the Syrian National Council supported by Turkey, are happy about this, of course.

Some have already accused al-Khatib of treachery. His answer to them, however, suggests that his prime concern is to stop the bloodshed, even if this means talking to al-Assad’s people. If that is done and a cease-fire is achieved, the next step will be to maintain Syria’s territorial integrity and prevent the country from falling apart, a fear based on the deep enmity that exists now between the ethnic and religious/sectarian communities.

That is going to require an international effort, with the involvement of all the key players in Syria today, including Turkey and Iran, since Syria can no longer do this without outside help. The situation was much the same for Bosnia in 1995.

This, in turn, places a great responsibility on the shoulders of the two key Security Council members – the U.S. and Russia, who are on the opposing sides of the fence on Syria. They have to work together to achieve an end to the civil war and to ensure Syria remains intact. They managed to see eye to eye on Mali, so they can work to do the same here.

Obviously, the U.S. and Russia are not the only players here, but if they can produce a workable format, other countries concerned with this issue will have to accept the agreement they come up with, given their strategic ties with these powers.

Washington and Moscow have not been able to agree yet. But clearly it is time for them to work together if they are sincere about wanting to end the bloodshed and maintain Syria’s territorial integrity, as they say maintain they are.

February/07/2013

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B Medic

2/9/2013 4:56:27 PM

@Blue: Where did you read that 9 security were killed by snipers at early demonstrations in Syria? I can't find any reports on that, not even on your dear Global Research site. 7 police officers died during early demonstrations in Daraa, but how they died has not been reported. Syrian rebels could not access sniper guns until relatively late in the conflict, while government soldiers used big Russian rifles that can kill a man at 2 km distance.

Blue Dotterel

2/8/2013 10:19:35 AM

Turk Uzan, and how do you know that the snipers on the buildings were Assad's. In Venezuela, the opposition used snipers to attack demonstrators and try to blame them on Chavez, but were exposed. Given that nine security members were also killed by these snipers in Syria, you might want to reconsider who they may have been working for. A similar false flag method was used in Benghazi: snipers shooting demonstrators blamed on Gaddafi, but were they Gaddafi's men? no one knows for sure.

Blue Dotterel

2/7/2013 9:18:19 PM

@Vargen, Erdogan plays to his anti-American electorate. The Us most likely advises him. It is the old good cop, bad cop routine. The AKP leadership are securely allied with the US, Israel and the GCC members, Saudi, Qatar, and Bahrain. With Erdogan, you need to pay attention to actions, not words. The words are to distract. Concerning Mavi Marmara, Turkey has not ever had better trade with Israel than after MM, but the AKP must condemn Israel publicly while working with them privately.

Turk Uzan

2/7/2013 6:57:52 PM

Russia is still hoping to keep Assad. Their (propaganda) channel RT is pumping out a ton of propaganda. Reaching millions in the west by the Internet alone. They minimize any crime Assad does/or simply do not report on it. And make extensive video's on any negative news about the FSA Ps. Gotta love RT, this "ultra progressive" news channel is "always" complaining about human rights etc. in the US/EU, always demonizing the west, but at the same time does not report ANY negative thing from Russia

Turk Uzan

2/7/2013 6:50:07 PM

@ Blue, yes it's the mercenaries responsible for all the bloodshed. Not Assads jet's artillery etc. not the fact that Assad put snipers on buildings to shoot innocent protesters FAR before the protesters took up arms. Yes it's all some kind of grand Jewish/Illuminati/Crab people/Alien conspiracy. The Syrian PM, and the thousands of soldiers, generals, etc who joined the FSA are all Jewish, Saudi, Turkish, American spies the rest are aliens. PS IT's not Assad's Syria, it's the Syrian's Syria,

Vargen Vargen

2/7/2013 4:53:41 PM

Blue. But for example the Muslim Brotherhood could set up a new Mavi Marmara expedition and support their Muslim brothers. This inconsistency about american involvement in the region is very strange. If US comes then Turkey slams them and talk about neo-columnisation, crusade etc etc. And when US does not step in, then they are slammed again with the same intencity. It is very confusing.

Blue Dotterel

2/7/2013 2:43:55 PM

Vargen, You mean local countries like Israel, Turkey, Saudi and Qatar, who are helping fund and arm the mercenaries fighting Assad's Syria. Mouaz al-Khatib is seeking dialogue in order to avoid being irrelevant, which he in fact is. He, the mercenaries sponsors, and the mercenaries could care less about stopping the bloodshed. They are responsible for it after all, and we certainly won't see them at the ICC to answer for their crimes against humanity.

Vargen Vargen

2/7/2013 11:54:44 AM

Why can not instead the local countries sort out the issue? Friends of Syria or some Muslim Union or something.
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