Arab League ‘non-violent’ plan for Syria wins Russian support

Syrian soldiers shout slogans in favor of President Bashar Assad from the back of an army truck, August 10, 2011 (AFP Photo / Str)
With images of NATO’s use of excessive force in Libya in the rear-view mirror, Russia is calling for the international community to support a non-violent Syrian settlement plan put forward by the League of Arab States (LAS).

­Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has confirmed Moscow’s support for the plan to resolve the political crisis in Syria, where the authorities are attempting to contain violent anti-government uprisings that first began in March as peaceful protests.

"Moscow has given active support to the plan for the settlement of the crisis in Syria proposed by the League of Arab States (LAS) and hailed the willingness of the Syrian government to immediately start implementing it," the ministry said.

Meanwhile, Moscow would also like to see other states support the “nonviolent political track” in Syria.

Lavrov "urged international leaders to support the LAS plan and make use of their resources for coordinated pressure on all parties to the domestic Syrian conflict in a bid to achieve the earliest possible implementation of the LAS initiative and transfer the settlement process in Syria onto a nonviolent political track," the ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry, in a thinly veiled reference to NATO’s recent military operation in Libya, hailed the decision by Damascus over “the release of 553 detainees and the declared amnesty for militants who would be willing to surrender their arms." Such measures contained in the League of Arab States initiative would “offer an opportunity for a constructive and concrete political dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition with the aim of taking the path of conciliation and reforms without any external interference," it said.

The ministry then mentioned Russia’s concern over reports of violence in the Arab Republic, especially in Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, which some observers have called a “humanitarian disaster area.”

"Under these circumstances, information on new acts of violence and fatalities in Syria, in the city of Homs in particular, over the past few days is alarming," the statement said.

Russia reminded Damascus of its responsibility towards its citizens.

"No one is going to relieve the Syrian authorities from responsibility for what is happening as it is their natural duty to guarantee security and rights for their citizens and maintain public security and order,” Moscow said.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry expressed "serious concern" over "statements from some Western states with unilateral assessments of the current events,” which made appeals to the opposition “not to surrender arms and not to accept the amnesty” offered by the Syrian  authorities.  

Equally alarming, the ministry added, are "statements by the Syrian opposition abroad over its categorical refusal to participate in a dialogue with Damascus over the proposal advanced by the League of Arab States.”

The ministry pointed out that this attitude will do little to help the situation in Syria, and contradicts the peace initiative of the Arab states.

Russia and other countries are concerned that a western coalition will attempt to open a military operation in Syria to quell the civil disturbances, in much the same way that NATO used its military to end a civil war in Libya, which led to the death of Muammar Gaddafi at the hands of a violent mob.

Robert Bridge, RT