US grabbed opportunity to back off, but regime change still ultimate goal in Syria
Russia and the United States have struck a deal on a framework
that will see the destruction or removal of Syria’s chemical
weapons by mid-2014. Nevertheless, US President Barack Obama
warned that America will remain prepared to act if diplomatic
RT:A lot seems to have been done in a very short time. Why wasn't something like this done earlier?
Richard Becker: We can see that the US government very quickly grabbed at the opportunity to find a way out of for them a very contradictory situation. We should recall that just two weeks ago military action was imminent. We were on the streets that day. We were expecting that the Obama administration would be announcing that military strikes were taking place. Instead he announced that he was going to Congress. And when that did not work – in fact he and Secretary of State Kerry became more and more isolated – they jumped at the opportunity to find the way, at least temporarily out of this situation when foreign minister Sergey Lavrov made the proposal on Monday.
They want to put this very quickly in the back burner at this point. Despite all the bluster and all the arrogant talk that we hear from Kerry, they have suffered a very serious setback at what their plans were to go to war and launch military strikes against Syria and have moved very quickly to try to have some resolution to this issue, at least on a temporary basis.
RT:After these proposals were announced, Obama again said Syria would face military consequences if it doesn't comply. Is that helpful at this delicate stage?
RB: I think that it is actually more of the spin to try to protect the image of the President and of the administration, trying to look tough. They tried to look tough but they found themselves extremely isolated because of tremendous opposition to a new US war in the Middle East from around the world and from inside the United States, very persuasive opposition to this.
Despite all the propaganda, the huge PR effort that they wield out, beginning about three weeks ago, they were unable to shift or break down that opposition. This was a great opportunity presented to them – what Sergey Lavrov presented to them last Monday. At the same time, as wanting to grasp that very quickly, they also don’t want to look weak. But clearly they want out of this very difficult, contradictory situation that they found themselves in.
RT:Despite the cooperation we have seen between Moscow and Washington there are major divisions over this issue, over the ultimate goal, aren’t there?
RB: Yes they are major. The United States policy consist of different elements which include the sanctions which hurt the people there, arming and funding, training the so-called the Free Syrian Army and coordinating the intervention of other countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey – in this war against the government of Syria.
The objective of the US is to bring about regime change regardless of the fact that they have been deterred from an immediate military strike. That remains their objective. The Syrian opposition oppose this agreement because they can’t win without US intervention.
RT:The Syrian opposition has already rejected the Russia-US agreement, could this pose a serious problem?
RB: I do not think that we know. I think they want the agreement to fail. They did not want the agreement at all. They cannot win, they cannot achieve victory without the intervention of the US and other NATO allies. They do not have the capacity on their own to win. That is why they were so ardently hoping for massive military strikes by the US against the government forces.