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Post Russia Offered to Have Assad Step Down in 2012
Created by John Eipper on 11/30/15 3:42 AM

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Russia Offered to Have Assad Step Down in 2012 (Bienvenido Macario, USA, 11/30/15 3:42 am)

A Finnish Senior negotiator said the Syrian refugee crisis could have been avoided in 2012. Since the rejection of alleged Russian proposal to have Assad leave, tens of thousands have been killed and millions displaced.

This is just for Syria. If Robert Whealey is looking for a single solution to all the problems in the Middle East, I fear he will not find it.

See: West "ignored Russian offer in 2012 to have Syria's Assad step aside"

Julian Borger and Bastien Inzaurralde
15 September 2015


JE comments: According to the above, France, the US, and the UK did not see the need to cut a deal with Assad in 2012, as they believed his overthrow was imminent. I've said this before, but the biggest political gainer from the Syria crisis is probably Putin, with the Iranians coming in second.  Assad, of course, has been more durable than anyone imagined.

Was the public aware of the Russian offer in 2012?  Did we discuss it on WAIS?

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  • Russia and Assad; What Should US Do? (Hall Gardner, France 12/01/15 10:13 AM)
    I thank Bienvenido Macario (30 November) for the reference. This confirms what I was told several years ago, when my contacts with both Russian and Iranian experts stated that neither Moscow nor Tehran was wedded to Assad.

    The question is still to find a diplomatic formula in which Russian strategic and political economic interests in Syria and the wider region are respected, but with Assad (and those in his government who are most responsible for the brutal repression of the Syrian people) eventually stepping down. This would be a concession to Sunni Arab states and Turkey, which are supporting differing factions in the Syrian resistance who militantly oppose Assad and who could join with Al Nusra and ISIS if Assad does not soon step down. What is needed is a change of face!

    If Assad were to be given political asylum in Moscow, as I have proposed for several years now (first at a speech at the American University in Sharjah in February 2013), then it may be possible to turn Syrian nationalist resistance groups against both IS and Al Nusra,

    Evidently not an easy prospect, which is made even more difficult by Turkey's shooting down of a Russian fighter jet, an action taken in part because of Russian bombardment of Turkmen villages, and where Turkey also supports the resistance against Assad in northern Syria. How much Turkey (plus the Arab Gulf states and "private" money from wealthy sympathizers) at least indirectly supports ISIS and Al Nusra is yet another significant point of contention.

    The other dimension of this crisis is Russian reaction to NATO enlargement and the provocative Russian overflights that are being taken into NATO and European airspace, including that of NATO member Turkey for several years now. This NATO-Russia dispute can set the preconditions for major power war, sparked by other incidents, and in the not so distant future--if we cannot calm the situation down and soon!

    This means the US must take the initiative to forge a general settlement with Moscow, not only over the Syria crisis, but also over the Crimea, eastern Ukraine, among other disputes. One option is to officially declare a decentralized Ukraine (after the Minsk II treaty is finalized) as a neutral state, much like Austria after World War II, hence putting an end to NATO's open enlargement at least to that country, while nevertheless seeking to demilitarize the Crimea and Black Sea region, among other steps toward peace by building confidence and security between NATO and Russia. That would be a plus for everyone--even if Moscow retains sovereignty over an annexed Crimea.

    This is what I hoped to argue in my Bloomberg interview after the Hollande-Obama press conference. Although it is impossible to explain complex proposals in a short TV interview, I thought the questions were particularly good:


    Once again, this has all been proposed in differing forms in my books, Crimea, Global Rivalry and the Vengeance of History (Palgave 2015), NATO Expansion and US Strategy in Asia (Palgrave, 2013), if not in earlier ones as well, including Averting Global War (Palgrave, 2010) and American Global Strategy and the "War on Terrorism" (Ashgate, 2007), which outlines many of the points raised in my books published afterwards.


    It will furthermore take real and effective US leadership to pull us out of this crisis, which I unfortunately do not see forthcoming on either the Republican or Democratic sides! But that is another issue.

    JE comments:  An accord with Russia should be fairly easy to achieve, although it comes at a political price.  Obama would be handing the election to the Republicans if he were seen as yielding to Putin, and what would the world say if Putin were allowed to "keep" Crimea?  How about the outrage in western Ukraine?

    Hall Gardner reports from Paris that the mood is generally depressed.  Please hang in there, Hall:  we are all wishing you and your compatriots the best.

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    • Russia and Assad; What Should US Do? (Timothy Brown, USA 12/02/15 4:18 AM)
      I pretend to no in-depth knowledge of the region, but find Hall Gardner's commentary (1 December) very thought-provoking on problems and possible solutions to the current Middle East imbroglio.

      Diplomatic solutions invariably involve compromises that grate on the participants, unlike negotiating an armistice after one side has lost a war, and the other has won. I believe I commented in an earlier posting on the importance of finding an acceptable solution to the future of Assad. And I'm not sure permanent asylum in Moscow will make him happy enough to surrender what power he has left. Nor do I think that ISIS/Daesh can be treated as an equal partner in any settlement. Given the human rights violations that have reportedly been committed by both, and the political rigidity or, if you prefer, rather inflexible morality-based stances that exist within the NGO community in alliance with the UN and other multinational interest groups, I venture to guess these two issues will prove to be the major stumbling blocks to reaching a negotiated agreement.

      During my diplo-years, I dealt with one issue involving the Russians during the period when the USSR was clearly, if not publicly, in the process of collapsing because they had overextended themselves (Cuba, Nicaragua, Manchuria, Congo, Ethiopia abroad; the Fulda Gap face-off near home), and we both knew it. In that case they were quite pragmatic. But this time, with Putin leading efforts to reconsolidate under Russian leadership as much of the pre-Soviet Czarist empire as possible, Russia may not be as amenable to compromise.

      JE comments: Putin's political star has risen since this summer, but the Russian economy is still screaming. It's the cheap oil.  A face-saving compromise just might work for everyone--except Daesh. They don't do compromise.

      One wonders if the US would be more willing to deal with Putin if it weren't an election season.

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    • Russia and Assad; What Should US Do? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 12/02/15 4:39 AM)
      I found Hall Gardner's post (1 December) quite intriguing, but there are a few things I do not understand. This is probably due to my lack of deep knowledge of Hall's books, which are all on topics of great interest.

      Hall states that Assad's stepping down would be a concession [Why is such a concession necessary?--EB] to Sunni Arab States and Turkey ["great" models of democracy if I am not wrong--EB], which are supporting different factions in the Syrian resistance that militarily oppose Assad. Hall believes that these factions could join with Al Nusra and ISIS if Assad does not soon step down.

      But so far, not only have these different factions supported Al Nusra and ISIS, but Turkey, Sunni Arab States and Israel have supported Al Nusra and ISIS. Don't forget the photo of a great US senator enjoying the company of the nice "freedom fighters against Assad."

      I assumed that to change a government, democratic elections are required and not the diktat of the Empire or foreign partisans. By the way, how many of the fighters against Assad are Syrian and how many are foreigners?

      Furthermore, Hall wrote about provocative actions by Russia; frankly NATO seems more provocative. NATO should have been made obsolete after 2 July 1991, and its existence is only to strengthen the Empire.

      Furthermore, how can someone ask Russia to demilitarize the Black Sea region? This is a provocation. What if Russia asked the US to demilitarize Alaska or the region around the Gulf of Mexico?

      The best thing would be if the US withdrew its troops from the military bases abroad, in primis from Italy.  After 70 years one can really be sick and tired of occupation troops. An alliance can be effective even if each state keeps its troops at home, moving them only in case of big open war.

      For sure, all these troops abroad in recent times have been sent to fight several local wars, but it does not seem to me that they had any success in improving the world situation.

      We do not have to change the face of Assad (as we changed the face of Gaddafi). And then? But we have to change our attitude toward Russia. Non-communist Russia is European and shall be part of a new Europe completely different from the present ridiculous EU.

      JE comments:  The opportunity to turn Assad into Our Bastard was lost when he used chemical weapons on his own people.  Or is a "morality-based stance" (Tim Brown's words) an impractical luxury in these harsh political times?

      Israel supports ISIS?  I'd like to learn more about this.

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