Assad to Putin at Moscow talks: Terrorists would seize larger areas if Russia did not act
“Yesterday evening Syrian President Bashar Assad arrived in Moscow for a working visit,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday. “President [Putin] was informed in detail by his Syrian counterpart about the current state of affairs in Syria and the long-range plan.”
The two leaders conducted lengthy negotiations, which then continued in the presence of Russia’s top policymakers.
Vladimir Putin said that the Syrian people have been confronting terrorists “practically single-handedly” for years, withstanding considerable casualties. Lately, they have achieved serious and positive results in this fight, he added.
The terrorists’ attempts to destabilize the situation in the Middle East arouse deep concern in Russia because “unfortunately, people from the former Soviet republics, at least 4,000 of them, are fighting against the Syrian army,” the Russian leader said. “Naturally, we cannot allow them to appear on Russian territory with all the combat experience and ideological brainwashing they have gone through.”
Syria is a country friendly to Russia, and Moscow is ready not only to assist with fighting terrorism, but also in reaching a peaceful political settlement to the Syrian conflict in cooperation with other global and regional powers, Putin said.
“The decisive word, without any doubt, must belong solely to the Syrian people,” Vladimir Putin stressed.
Bashar Assad thanked Russia for the support provided to Syria in fighting for its sovereignty and unity.
“Terrorists would have occupied far greater territories if it were not for Russia’s military assistance,” President Assad said, adding that political steps are due to follow military action. “The only aim for all of us should be what the Syrian people want as a future for their country.”
Once the terrorists are defeated, it will take a united effort to rebuild the country economically and politically and to ensure peaceful coexistence for all, Assad concluded.
Assad’s visit to Moscow is an indication of the Syrian leader becoming more ‘confident’ on the international arena, says journalist and broadcaster Neil Clark.
“I think [Assad’s visit] is significant because he hasn’t left his country for four years of this terrible war, since this Western proxy war started. And so I think it means he is confident that he can leave the country,” Clark told RT.
“We are seeing Russia take the role of leadership on the international stage,” geopolitical analyst Patrick Henningsen told RT, stressing that western efforts to defeat Islamic State have been “dragging on with no conclusive results.”
Russia has “basically gatecrashed an underground party that has been going on for four years,” Henningsen said. “Countries like the US, Turkey, Jordan and NATO allies like the UK and France have been able to operate in the shadows. Russia has basically barged in, switched on the lights and said the party’s over.
“They are very upset in Washington and are still throwing temper tantrums, saying Russia has made a horrible move,” Henningsen said, adding that the US would like very much to see Russia in another Afghanistan.
Yet the Russian military operation in Syria is “very different from Afghanistan” because Russia has been “invited in by the legal democratically elected government in Damascus.”
Henningsen said that if the West was really serious about dealing with the terrorist threat, they would have worked with the Assad government because that is the ground force and they have the most ground intelligence.
“This is what Russia is doing. It has just gone in and has worked with the key player they needed to work with.”
Henningsen added that with the 22,000 bombs that were dropped on Islamic State by the western anti-ISIS alliance in the last 13 months, Islamic State should have disappeared already.
Middle East expert Willy Van Damme said the US is “in a quagmire and their friends, the whole Western-Turkey-Saudi alliance is in a complete mess and they are arguing amongst themselves, they don’t trust each other and everyone has their own idea.”
He added: “Some want to divide up Syria, others want to conquer it like the French, Turkey wants part of the north of Syria to incorporated in a sort of Ottoman Empire with “Sultan” [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan.”
Daniele Ganser, a peace researcher and expert on NATO, said the Pentagon's strategy of fighting against ISIS and simultaneously supporting militants fighting against Assad isn’t working.
“The Pentagon always says, ‘We did not want to drop any weapons to ISIS,’ and they always say they do not support the radical enemies of Assad – ‘We support the moderate enemies of Assad,’” Genser said. “This has always been a very difficult distinction to, make and we have people in Iraq who came forward many years ago and said, ‘There are weapons being dropped by the British and the US’ and these went into the hands of ISIS.”
The US “always made this very strange mix of communications by saying, ‘Yes, we want to topple Assad,’ and, ‘We also want to fight IS,’” he said. “This was always bewildering to any peace researcher or historian who looked into the situation, and I do not think they had a clear strategy in Syria."