Putin firm on Syria, US dismiss military option
MOSCOW / WASHINGTON
AP PhotoRussia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned against a military intervention in Syria and an attack on Iran and claimed that the West had backed the Arab Spring revolts to advance its interests in the region.
Putin defended a Russia-China veto of a U.N. resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on protests, saying that Moscow wouldn’t allow the replay of what happened in Libya.
“Learning from that bitter experience, we are against any U.N. Security Council resolutions that could be interpreted as a signal for a military interference into domestic processes in Syria,” Putin said in an article published yesterday. Also yesterday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed regret that the “Friends of Syria” conference didn’t “help create conditions that would encourage all Syrians to engage in political dialogue.” Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Feb. 26 warned against the U.S. arming rebels in Syria because such a move could inadvertently lead to support for Al-Qaeda and Hamas. “We really don’t know who it is that would be armed,” Clinton told CBS News, as she noted that Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has expressed support for the Syrian rebels. “Are we supporting Al-Qaeda in Syria?” she said. “Hamas is now supporting the opposition. Are we supporting Hamas in Syria?” In the meantime, EU foreign ministers said yesterday they froze the assets of several Syrian government officials and the country’s central bank. They also banned the purchase of gold, precious metals and diamonds from the country, and banned Syrian cargo flights from the EU.