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7 Feb, 2012 16:39

Destination dialogue: Russia eager for negotiations in Syria

The visit of a Russian delegation to Damascus has raised hopes of talks between the Assad government and the opposition. Experts say Moscow is eager for negotiations in Syria, while the West is only interested in toppling the government.

Richard Heydarian, a Manila-based foreign affairs analyst, has told RT that Russia will put a lot of pressure on the Assad regime for any kind of resolution of the problem. He believes the Russians feared that the UN draft resolution, if accepted, could become a pretext for some sort of military intervention. Moscow, he said, will do its best to solve the crisis.“What Russia will try to do right now is use all kinds of leverage and influence it has on Bashar Assad and the Syrian regime, to make sure there will be a political process which will [ensure] a smooth transition, perhaps, towards a post-authoritarian scenario,” Heydarian concluded.Jeremy Salt, associate professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at Bilkent University in Turkey, thinks that the interests of many countries are intersecting in Syria at the moment.“Part of the problem in Syria is that there are too many different agendas: the Western agenda, the Saudi agenda which is shared by Qatar.”“But they all converge at one point,” he explained. “They want to remove the Syrian government. Their cause is bringing down the Syrian government. It is not really reform – it is about destroying the Assad government.” Salt says the Western powers are interested not in promoting dialogue but in prolonging the crisis in the country, while Russia and China are pushing diplomacy in Syria because they cannot allow a Libyan or Iraqi scenario to take place. At the same time China’s and Russia’s interests in Syria are different, Professor Simon Shen from the Chinese University of Hong Kong explained to RT.“Unlike Russia, China doesn’t have any particular interest in [Syria]. However, as for the region on the whole, China is very concerned with the regular supply of oil. That, basically, is number one priority in Chinese foreign policy,” he told RT.“But Syria is not just Syria. From a Chinese prospective, [the situation around this country creates problems] for Iran, because if Syria falls, then probably, the next target will be Iran – and China had expressed very clearly that it doesn’t want any new hurdles to be placed upon Iran in terms of its oil export,” Shen explained.