Syria: US forced to back off

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

Russia has forced the United States to back off from bombing Syria following talks that ended in an agreement that will lead to the destruction of Syria’s entire chemical weapons arsenal. Syrian President Bashar al Assad personally thanked the Kremlin for its help when he met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Damascus on Wednesday. “We highly value the Russian stance towards Syria. Such stands raise hope for a new road-map for the world power balance,” the Syrian leader declared.

The Obama administration was not only under increasing pressure from his own allies in Congress to avoid confrontation but also from Israel, its key ally in the region. According to the Wall Street Journal, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu told US foreign minister John Kerry that he believed Russia wasn’t bluffing and that a deal was possible.

The New York daily, citing unnamed US and Middle Eastern officials briefed on the exchange, says Netanyahu told the Americans that Israel shared US concerns that strikes could strengthen rebels linked with al Qaeda and allow them to seize Syria’s weapons.

Russia and People’s China are now continuing to co-ordinate their positions on the Syrian conflict following the deal to dismantle and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons that was made by the Kremlin and the United States during talks in Geneva last weekend.

Russia and China have both welcomed the Syrian government’s decision to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and urged the Syrian government to fulfil the Russia-US agreements and support the reconvening of the Geneva Peace Conference on Syria.

The Arab League has also voiced its support for the Russia-US deal, saying that it was a step closer to a political resolution of the unrest in Syria. Under the agreement, Syria must clear its chemical weapons stockpile by 2014.

But the imperialists are desperately trying to recover lost ground. The CIA and the Turks are pumping even more arms and money to the rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad government. And Britain, France and the United States are pushing for a United Nations mandate to sanction force to implement the deal — a move that will certainly be again vetoed by Russia and China.

The UN inspectors who investigated the site of the August chemical weapons attack have confirmed the use of sarin poison gas but their brief was not to determine responsibility and the UN says a new probe is needed to determine who was behind it. This hasn’t stopped the imperialists from repeating claims that the Syrian army was responsible for the war-crime despite a number of British and American military and intelligence experts saying that there is no evidence that the Assad government is to blame.

Russia has dismissed the latest chapter in the imperialist hate campaign against the Assad government as “inappropriate and kidding” and this was being done for the sole purpose of helping the Syrian opposition escape responsibility.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who is currently in Damascus for talks with Syrian leaders, slammed the West’s approach as “politicised, biased and one-sided” and the UN report itself as “selective, not taking into account all the circumstances” and failing to give a full picture of what is really happening in Syria.

Meanwhile Alexei Pushkov, a prominent supporter of Vladimir Putin in the Russian parliament, has condemned the US for turning a blind eye to Syrian rebels murdering hundreds of Kurds in northern Syria. A total of 450 Kurdish civilians, including 120 children, were killed in August by the sectarian thugs of the al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reached the agreement on Saturday 14th September following three days of talks in Geneva.

The deal was welcomed in Syria as a victory that had taken away the pretext for war. Ali Haidar, the Syrian Minister for National Reconciliation, who leads the left-wing Popular Front for Change and Liberation that is part of the Baathist-led popular front government, said: “This agreement, an achievement of Russian diplomats and the Russian leadership, is a victory for Syria, won thanks to our Russian friends”.