[Marxism] Russia gloomy over Syria

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 13 07:21:21 MST 2012

Russia admits Assad may be ousted by Syrian opposition

Kremlin acknowledges Assad is losing control of the country but laments 
'bloody price' that must be paid for president to go

     Miriam Elder in Moscow
     guardian.co.uk, Thursday 13 December 2012 07.01 EST	

Russia has acknowledged for the first time that the regime of Syrian 
president Bashar al-Assad is losing control of the country.

"One must look the facts in the face. The tendency is that the regime 
and government of Syria is losing more and more control, and more and 
more territory," Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, 
said on Thursday, Russian news agencies reported. "Unfortunately, the 
victory of the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out."

"Today we are dealing with issues of preparing an evacuation. We have a 
mobilisation plan, we are figuring out where our citizens are," he said. 
An estimated 5,300 Russian citizens live in Syria.

Bogdanov's statement was the first time a Russian official has publicly 
considered the possibility of an opposition victory in the conflict, 
which is estimated to have killed more than 40,000 people. Russia has 
stood by Assad, providing his regime with weapons and repeatedly 
blocking UN actions despite an international outcry.

Speaking during a hearing at the Public Chamber, an advisory body to the 
Kremlin, Bogdanov did not indicate that Russia had changed its stance 
and said the bloody price to be paid for Assad's ousting was "unacceptable".

"The fighting will become even more intense, and you will lose ten of 
thousands and, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of people," he warned. "If 
such a price for the ousting of the president seems acceptable to you, 
what can we do? We, of course, consider it absolutely unacceptable."

He said Syria's rebels had been buoyed by arms shipments from abroad and 
increasing international recognition of Syria's opposition coalition as 
the country's legitimate representation.

The US president, Barack Obama, recognised the coalition during an 
interview on Tuesday.

"[The rebels] say that victory is no longer beyond the mountains – 'soon 
we'll take Aleppo, soon we'll take Damascus' – and that they already 
control 60% of the territory," Bogdanov said.

He accused the west of waging a campaign to diminish Russia's influence 
in the Middle East. "The expanded campaign by the west, with support 
from the Arab League, to distort Russia's position on Syria is aimed at 
weakening our influence in the region and freezing future relations 
between Russia and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa."

Russia has firmly stood its ground on Syria after accusing the west of 
manipulating a UN mandate to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya in order to 
overthrow the regime of Muammar Gadaffi, who, along with Assad, was one 
of Moscow's last few remaining allies in the region.

Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of Russia in Global Affairs, said Bogdanov's 
statements marked a shift in Russian analysis of the situation, but 
would change little on the ground.

"This is a shift for sure. The question is: so what?" he said. "The 
Russian position has always been that we never endorse Assad personally. 
Russia was in favour of a political solution, a political solution 
failed and now the opposition will win. 'That's too bad': that's the 

"It's a bad thing for [Russia's] image, for status, but business as 
usual ended with Bashar al-Assad maybe a year ago because it was already 
clear then that normal co-operation and commercial contracts would not 
be possible anymore," he said.

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