An Egyptian reporter, writing from Damascus, advises that the Russian government is signaling a diplomatic route toward a solution in the Syrian civil war:
Russia is expected to take steps over the next few weeks that some Syrian opposition figures and western diplomats see as signs of a shift in the country’s position on the crisis in Syria. The Syrian opposition has even started to build on such a transformation by claiming that Moscow, for more than 18 months vetoing international action in the UN Security Council, has begun to accept the removal of President Bashar Al-Assad from power as part of a solution to the Syrian crisis.
Over recent weeks, Russia has exerted efforts to apply the Geneva Declaration on Syria and urged the Security Council to adopt the declaration, issued on 20 June, converting it into a binding ceasefire on all parties as the first step towards a political resolution of the crisis.
Russian efforts to get the declaration accepted at the UN would probably serve the Syrian opposition, were the ceasefire to be binding and not a solo effort. Moscow’s initiative has been accompanied by Russian-French consultations in Paris, with French sources leaking reports that the Russians have agreed to discuss everything pertaining to Syria, including the removal of the president.
The source of the reporter’s optimism appears not only to come from the opposition to Assad’s rule, but also from French diplomatic officials.
Meanwhile, Russia is also taking diplomatic steps on the ground, with Russian President Vladimir Putin planning to visit Turkey to discuss the Syrian crisis until the grounding of a Syrian passenger plane last week by Turkish authorities under the pretext it was carrying Russian military equipment caused him to cancel the trip.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov still intends to visit Egypt and Saudi Arabia at the beginning of next month in order to meet with counterparts there, as well as to meet with ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in Riyadh.
Moscow, up to now the Syrian regime’s strongest ally, has now opened its doors to the Syrian opposition factions and welcomed Arab and UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to discuss how to handle the crisis.
Please note that the Russian government, while outraged at the Turkish forcing down and searching of a passenger plane (no smoking gun was found), did not threaten the use of force. But that’s not the non-barking dog to which my title refers (you may recall that, in “The Silver Blaze,” a Sherlock Holmes mystery, the great detective solved the crime by deducing it was the owner of the house who was the criminal. How did he know? Because the dog did not bark; the only person who could have committed the crime without arousing the dog was someone the dog knew as a friend — the dog’s owner). We have no mention of any involvement by the United States government in this diplomatic effort.
There may be any number of explanations of this omission, but it does appear somewhat striking: the U.S. had a leading rôle in the intervention in Libya, and has had a considerable part in the opposition to Assad; its most recent action was, through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to assure Turkey that NATO would support Turkey if it were attacked by Syria.
Russia would be pleased to work not only with France but also with the U.S. peaceably to resolve this transition, which is to say, to get Assad out of office and to put in power in Syria a regime acceptable to all parties. Inversely to the Sherlock Holmes story, we find no friendly action from the United States, which since the Carter Doctrine has maintained its hegemony in the region. If it has not been invented here, we will have none of it. Our first consideration is not peace, but the interests of U.S. hegemony — the interests of the American Empire.