Russian FM blames West for ‘provocation’ over Syria

Russia has accused the west of exacerbating the already tense situation in Syria. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says calls for the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad's regime are nothing but a provocation.

­“In Syria we are now seeing a situation where the Arab League is calling for a halt to violence and the beginning of dialogue, and western countries and the capitals of some countries in the region are making calls to the contrary, expressly recommending the opposition hold no talks with the Assad regime,” Lavrov announced. “It looks like a political provocation on an international scale. Yes, violence  has  to be  stopped,  but  this demand  has  to  be addressed to  the  authorities  and  armed  groups  in  the  Syrian opposition,” he argued.

The Russian government has established trustworthy relations with both Assad’s regime and armed opposition groups. Moscow is potentially the only third force capable of forcing the sides to strike a deal. But as the Russian FM warns, the position of certain foreign states is likely to prevent peaceful negotiations.

“A kind of liberation army of Syria has appeared and created a Temporary Military Council, proclaiming as its aim toppling the regime in Syria,” Sergey Lavrov says. “Some European capitals are preparing to discuss the issue at the UN Security Council, equating the military actions of Syrian renegades to the manifestation of democratic aspirations by the people.”

The Russian FM reaffirmed Moscow’s stance on Syria: Russia wants to see both sides coming together to discuss peacefully how to lead the country out of crisis.

Last week, Syria was expelled from the Arab League, a step “counterproductive to the peace process’, as Sergey Lavrov put it.

This is not the first time the Russian FM has leveled accusations at the west regarding Syria. When the Arab League made its decision to expel the country, Mr Lavrov suggested the “shadowy hand of western powers” was behind the move.

Many analysts are comparing the situation in Syria with Libya before the NATO invasion. Former allies and friends of President Assad are calling on the west to intervene in Syria.

Into its eighth month, the violence in the country has claimed an estimated 3,500 lives.

­British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday the international community would do its best to turn up the heat on Syria. The statement followed President Bashar al-Assad declaring he would not bow to pressure to crack down on protesters.

"We will increase the pressure on the Assad regime. I discussed this with the Secretary of the Arab League yesterday and I believe they will wish to do so at their further meeting tomorrow," he told BBC Radio.

"The behavior of that regime is appalling and unacceptable and of course we will do what we can to support democracy in Syria in the future," Hague said.

Hague also stated the international community had "done a lot" to increase the pressure on Assad. This included imposing sanctions and stopping all of Syria's crude oil exports from entering EU waters.

"We are working this week on a further round of sanctions which I hope we can agree next week," Hague added.

Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Bashar al-Assad that his days as Syrian leader were numbered and he cannot remain in power indefinitely with the help of the military force.

"You can remain in power with tanks and cannons only up to a certain point. The day will come when you'll also leave," Erdogan said during a meeting in Istanbul.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned that the civil war in Syria could have a destabilizing effect on the whole region.

The PM called for implementing reforms in Syria, though he flatly denied the military intervention of other countries would be of any help to resolving the conflict between Damascus and the opposition.