|G8 Superstar Vladimir Putin|
The Vladimir Putin-Bashar al-Assad alliance emphatically won yesterday’s G8 summit finals in Northern Ireland, according to Abdelbari Atwan.
The publisher/editor-in-chief of the London-based pan-Arab newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi writes in Arabic this morning:
Proof the Russian president came out on top at the G8 meeting is corroborated by three peculiarities in the summit’s final statement on Syria, namely:
- Absence of any explicit and unambiguous call on his partner Assad to stand down as the sine qua non of a political solution to the Syria crisis.
- Strong endorsement of Geneva-2, where the Syrian regime will be represented by Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem. This translates into recognition of the regime’s legitimacy.
- A commitment by the G8 leaders to fight and destroy Islamic extremist groups affiliated to al-Qaeda or other Muslim Jihadist organizations.
Thus, after a 26-month uprising and over 100,000 chiefly innocent Syrian fatalities, G8 leaders agree with Assad that he is fighting armed gangs.
This conclusion must have shocked and shaken the armed Syrian opposition, its supporters and its sponsors, especially the Gulf Arab states.
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, one of the most ardent Western advocates of arming the Syrian opposition, said, “Yes, there are elements of the Syrian opposition that are deeply unsavory, that are very dangerous, very extremist, and I want nothing to do with them.
“I'd like them driven out of Syria; they're linked to al-Qaeda. But there are elements of the Syrian opposition who want to see a free, democratic, pluralistic Syria that respects the rights of minorities, including Christians, and we should be working with them...
“We have to learn the lessons of Iraq by ensuring the key institutions of the state are maintained through the transition and there is no vacuum.”
Cameron used two very indicative expressions – drive out Islamic extremists and avoid a political vacuum.
The question that begs an answer is this: Who would drive out the extremists and how? The Free Syrian Army under the command of Chief of Staff Gen. Salim Idriss, who was picked by the U.S, and the West as sole conduit of arms aid to opposition forces? Given the arms and funds, the man is presumably prepared to do the job. Gulf countries can chip in and provide both.
Cameron’s suggestion of ridding Syria of extremists is easier said than done, if not impossible in the foreseeable future. The Jihadists groups already have a pervasive presence in Syrian opposition ranks.
Assad told the German premier daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview published on the eve of the G8 summit: “My current term ends in 2014. When the country is in a crisis, the president is expected to shoulder the burden of responsibility and resolve the situation, not abandon his duties and leave.
“I often use the analogy of a captain navigating a ship hit by a storm; just imagine the captain jumping ship and escaping in a lifeboat!
“If I decide to leave now, I would be committing treason. If on the other hand, the public decided I should step down, that would be another issue. And this can only be determined through elections or a referendum.”
A Russian president like Putin, who keeps saying he won’t allow a no-fly zone over Syria and he will continue arms shipment to Damascus, backs Assad.
An American president with trembling knees, who was stung by two defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan and half or quarter of a victory in Libya, backs the Syrian opposition.
Isn’t Assad justified to relax and stretch his legs?
For the nth time, their Western and Arab “friends” have duped the Syrian people.