Russia forges ahead towards resolving Syrian crisis
Against the backdrop of the West's strategy of inviting Syrian opposition groups to the scheduled international conference known as Geneva-2, which opens on January 22, it would a major diplomatic success for Russia in bringing them (Syrian opposition groups) to peace talks.
Russia has persuaded Syria to agree to a prisoner exchange scheme and a local ceasefire in an effort to rescue a crucial peace plan for the ensuing international conference. In fact, the Syrian opposition had been demanding the end of bombardment by government forces and granting relief aid to the besieged areas as a precondition for its participation in Geneva-2 which had become a major stumbling block to the success of the conference.
The initiative came hours before the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), an umbrella organization of several opposition groups, met in Turkey to vote on whether or not to attend Geneva-2. Fortunately, several rebel groups opposed to the peace talks have recently split from the SNC thereby paving way for the majority of opposition groups to attend the conference. Although no formal invitations were given to the other opposition groups like the National Coalition, the National Coordination Council, and the Syrian Kurds.
Mr Lavrov reiterated Russia's view that "a full spectrum of opposition" should be invited to the peace conference to find a lasting solution to the Syrian civil war to which the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon also accedes.
If the proposed swap takes place, it would be the first deal in nearly three years of large scale fighting in Syria. Syria's offer of concessions to the rebels is another feather in Russia's cap for its effective plan for preventing any violent regime change in Syria. All these positive developments have come after cordial talks, yesterday, in Moscow between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his visiting Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moualem. While addressing a joint press conference with Mr Lavrov, Mr Moualem said, "Taking into the account the role of the Russian Federation in ending the bloodshed in Syria, as well as our trust based relations, I have handed Minister Lavrov a plan for security measures in Allepo." Mr Lavrov praised Syria's willingness, "in response to our appeals," to initiate "a series of humanitarian steps" to allow quick delivery of assistance to "Eastern Ghuta and other areas, including the suburbs of Damascus and Allepo."
The apparent mischief by the West in not calling all the stake holders in Syria to the peace talks, and belittling the Russian effort to ensure the success of the conference, didn't help to reduce the increasing Russian presence in West Asia, particularly in context of recently emerging Moscow-Teheran-Damascus axis. Moscow's commitment towards solving the Syrian issue is particularly creditable though like the US or any other country, it is also pursuing its economic and commercial interests with Syria, in particular, and the West Asian region, in general.
Dr. Sudhanshu Tripathi
Associate Professor, Political Science,
M. D. P. G. College, PRATAPGARH (UP)