Permafrost; Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Blasts USA and Allies for Arming Syria´s Opposition.
Russia´s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calls the report of the independent commission of inquiry biased, arming the Syrian opposition illegal, and states that opposition needs to appoint a team for negotiations.
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc).- Russian – US/NATO relations have further deteriorated when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on Wednesday, reaffirmed that foreign country´s arming of the Syrian opposition violates international law, and when a Foreign Ministry Spokesperson described the report of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria for being biased and one-sided as usual.
The Russian Foreign Minister emphasized, that the Syrian opposition has to take steps toward negotiations to end the crisis, as both the Syrian government and Russia are prepared to facilitate them. Lavrov also reiterated, that the Syrian people have to determine their own destiny, and that foreign interference in Syria is unacceptable.
Relations between Russia and the EU member states within NATO have deteriorated significantly, after the parties failed to find solutions to Russian – European disputes over the European Unions third energy packed at a Russian – E.U. Summit in Brussels, in December 2012. (1
The summit was the most recent chance to address the underlying core issues at the root of the Syria crisis, which are related to European energy security concerns in the light of stern US – Israeli – Qatari opposition against the completion of the PARS gas pipeline from Iran through Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. (2
Tensions became palpatable, when Russia´s Ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko, talking about energy security, implied that NATO perceived every problem as a nail, just because it is thinking about itself as a hammer. Russia´s Top-Diplomats have since given one assertive signal after the other, stating that the USA is not exempt for responsibility for terrorist acts in Syria, just because it stated that it will no longer provide any lethal aid and while at the same time failing to assert its influence over its allies, who arm the insurgents. (3
US-Russian relations have been further stressed when US Secretary of State John Kerry, in spite of Russian diplomats assertions, granted USD 60 million in additional aid to both the political and armed Syrian “opposition” while neglecting the ongoing national dialog in Syria. (4
Contacts between Russia and the USA as well as many European governments have since, largely been downgraded to Deputy Foreign Minister, Deputy Secretary levels. Revelations by a member of the General Secretariat of the National Party of Kuwait, Faisal al-Hamad, that a secret contract for the division of Syria into smaller states had been signed by a US ambassador, at the Friends of Syria meeting in Doha, Qatar, has since effectively created an atmosphere of permafrost between Russia and the USA, EU. (5
Yesterday, Russia´s Foreign Minister, referring to the consequences of NATO´s intervention in Libya, stated at a press conference in London, ” I understand, that arming the opposition is prohibited by international law, and that arming Syria´s opposition contradicts principles of international law”.
Lavrov expressed his hope, that the Syrian opposition would form a team to negotiate with the Syrian government and added, “The government and the opposition have to nominate two teams for negotiations. The government did so, and we are waiting for the opposition to do the same thing”. Lavrov emphasized that it was the responsibility of western countries to assure that the opposition formed a negotiations team and said, “If their goal really was to stop the bloodshed in the country, they would not have put up preconditions for negotiating”.
Russia also criticized the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria in sharper terms than before, calling it unobjective, unbalanced, and biased as usual. The Deputy Director of the Department of Information of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zarkhova was about to break the rules of diplomatic courtesy when she said, “The report is unobjective and unbalanced, and the last document of it is no exception to the rule”.
Zarkhova´s statement is supported by previous statements of international peace movements. The Italian Peace Network Roma, criticizing the commission and its work in September 2012, used almost identical words when it provided a detailed report about the commissions failures and malpractices.(6
The Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Maria Zarkhova stressed, that the commission’s recommendation, to refer the crisis in Syria to the International Criminal Court, ICC, is both futile and wrong timed, saying, “Russia has not backed forming the commission in the first place”, adding, “but we were cooperative with its experts to clarify our stand on the ongoing events in this country”.
Zarkhova also lashed out at some members of the UN security Council for having ignored draft statements which condemned the terrorist bombings in Syria, which claimed the lives of innocent civilians. Zarkhova called their positions biased and marked with double standards. The foreign Ministry Spokeswoman was, more precisely, referring to the terror bombings near the Baath Party headquarters and the Russian Embassy in Damascus, earlier this year.(7
The US veto at the UN Security Council, against the condemnation of the attack and terrorism in all of its forms, prompted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to voice the Russian governments frustration over the fact, that the UNSC standards, according to which all nations, without exclusion, would condemn terrorism, regardless of the perpetrator, place or motives, was no longer upheld. Lavrov stated, “Russia sees in the American position the use of double standards and a dangerous approach in terms of the Americans moving away from the main principle of condemning terrorism in all its forms”. (8
Also Zarkhova alluded to the double standards of the USA, EU and in particular the commission of inquiry, when she said, “What surprises Moscow is, that the report doesn’t include a call for cancelling the unilateral economic sanctions imposed by some countries and regional organizations on Syria, despite the fact that the Commission stresses the negative impact of these sanctions on the citizens’ lives”.
While the USA and EU effectively ignore the growing Russian protests and continue on their path of financing and arming the insurgency directly, through their allied GCC member states, Turkey, or through a shadowy network of straw-men like Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, Russia continues calling for a peaceful settlement of the crisis and for an immediate halt to the financing and arming of the insurgents. Russia continues pressing for, that the USA and EU assert their influence over the “opposition”, to bring it to the negotiating table and to end the violence. A statement on the website of the Russian Foreign ministry today, states, “there is no alternative to a diplomatic settlement in Syria”. Within the current diplomatic context this statement signals, that Russia is neither ready or willing to give one more inch with regard to the US/NATO-led decline into international anarchy and barbarism. With the USA, EU, Israel and allies on the other hand bend on continuing their “Greater Middle East Project” no matter what, diplomacy has reached a state of permafrost, resembling the cold-war period.