Syria Daily: Russia Acts on UN Shift — “Assad Must Stay”

A poster of Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, January 2017

Moscow quickly seizes on UN envoy De Mistura’s sidelining of political transition for emphasis on “counter-terrorism”


UPDATE 1745 GMT: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the ceasefire in southwest Syria, brokered by the US and Russia.

During a visit to Paris, Netanyahu said the “de-escalation zone” does not adequately address Iranian military ambitions in the area.

Israel has insisted that Iranian and Iranian-supported forces such as Hezbollah be kept away from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Before the announcement of the ceasefire, Israel attacked Assad regime positions on three occasions, citing rockets fired into the Golan Heights.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia has acted quickly to take advantage of a shift by UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, proclaiming that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad must remain in power.

On Friday, at the conclusion of the seventh round of the Geneva political talks, De Mistura put the emphasis on “counter-terrorism” rather than political transition — opposed by Assad if he has to relinquish power. De Mistura said that the regime delegation had given no indication that it would discuss transition.

Yesterday the Russian Ambassador in Geneva, Alexei Borodavkin, followed up with a proclamation of positive developments. He put pressure on the opposition High Negotiations Committee by declaring a “correction” in its approach: “The goal of the opposition has been somehow changed. Now they speak not about toppling the legitimate government led by Bashar Assad but about reaching agreements with him on a political reform.”

Borodavkin warned of “extremist-minded elements that demand, though in a low voice, [Assad’s] departure” but added that the HNC and its foreign supporters realized that “peace” — Assad’s continued hold on power — must occur before any political reforms can be negotiated:

Finally, it seems that even the radically-minded opposition members and their foreign sponsors understand that first peace should be established in Syria. And then an agreement may be reached on a political reform as soon as the situation in the country normalizes.

He added that the success of the opposition — including smaller “Moscow” and “Cairo” factions favored by the Russians, as well as the HNC — depended on its willingness to accept the regime’s priorities:

If they will be ready to make deals with the government delegation, that is one thing. If they again slide into… ultimatums and preconditions that are not realistic, then this will not fly. This will lead the negotiations, be it direct or indirect, into a deadlock.

Borodavkin then heaped praise on De Mistura for the tilt that put “counter-terrorism” — a term used by the Assad regime for much of the opposition and rebels — above any engagement of the reforms such as a new Constitution and free and fair elections:

We have always supported and are supporting efforts of the special envoy, his team and his office. They show, especially recently, that they are focused on active assistance to the negotiating process, they are acting in a quite balanced manner and seeking opportunities to move ahead. Basing on the main players’ common opinion, they are putting forward new balanced and right proposals.

In Letter to UN, 8 States Counter Smear Campaign Against White Helmets

Eight member states have written the UN Security Council to highlight “misleading and inaccurate allegations against the Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets”.

The eight — Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK, and the US — responded to a May submission by Russia, “White Helmets: Fact or Fiction”, trying to smear the volunteer group as an ally of terrorists and extremists.

The letter explains that the White Helmets, who have saved almost 100,000 lives are “first responders where there are none”, that they deliver essential public services, and that “they bear witness to the systematic human rights violations and possible war crimes” of the Assad regime.

It notes that the smear campaign against the force has accompanied the sustained Russian-regime attacks on medical services throughout opposition territory, destroying scores of hospitals, clinics, and civil defense centers and killing hundreds of people. Almost 200 White Helmets volunteers have been slain and almost 500 wounded.

Related Posts

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. Just goes to show that the UN should be ignored and supplanted by a G20 “League of democratic nations”. Let the 3rd Worldists cry foul. Just send them to Guantanamo for a state sponsored “vacation”. They have ruined the UN and brought this misery upon the world.

  2. #International: Mainstream US press find out that Iraq is now an Iranian colony –
    Excerpt from the above link: “From Day 1, Iran saw something else: a chance to make a client state of Iraq, a former enemy against which it fought a war in the 1980s so brutal, with chemical weapons and trench warfare, that historians look to World War I for analogies. If it succeeded, Iraq would never again pose a threat, and it could serve as a jumping-off point to spread Iranian influence around the region. In that contest, Iran won, and the United States lost.”
    Now they realise this? What they’ve been paying attention to for the past 3 years?
    #Latakia: “HTS claims it successfully infiltrated military port of Al-Minat Al-Bayda & set off a car bomb inside” – QalaatAlMudiq
    Not that I want to repeat myself however – strategically this type of operation would strategically be more lethal to the regime if the oil-export terminal plant in Baniyas was targeted instead. Why? Because most (rest of the other plants in Syria are either destroyed or not in regime control) of the regime’s oil-processing production is centred around that plant and if that oil terminal ever got thoroughly destroyed then it doesn’t matter how much oil the Iranian/Russians send to Assad as the regime would no longer have the capability to refine the oil into petrol for regime tanks/vehicles. Tartous would also be another perfect target.

    • Looks like the US MSM press have just discovered Obama’s 8 year plan for Iraq – which resulted in an unexpected revolt by Sunnis in the form of ISIS.

    • Very true, destroying the regime’s oil supply will force Iran to supply more of its own and thus bring it ever closer to its inevitable sequestration, and when that happens the rebels will throw Bashar out with the Baath Party!

  3. Refugees in Rubar Camp ,Efrîn call on world & esp UN to stop Turkey & their gangs from further attacks on their refugee camp. 7/15/2017

    These brilliant budding thespians in #Newroz #refugee camp, #Syria, certainly know how to put on a show! 9/24/2016

    Apo spent over 2 years in a Syrian refugee camp to shoot his documentary.
    Watch me talk to him in LA about his incredible experience.
    [ ] 7/16/2017

  4. MEET the #Christian Syrian women fighting back — my interview with their commander:

    #Syria #TwitterKurds #SDF 7/16/2017

    Meet the Christians Fighting ISIS in Raqqa.

    The @SyriacMFS and the @HSNB_ defending all of us on the front lines against IS. Support them! 6/30/2017

    We fight this battle with the certainty that ISIS will be defeated and that our young democracy, the Democratic Self-Administration of Northern Syria, will prevail. This area of unique freedom in our region is a sign of hope and we ask the world to join us to defend and grow freedom for our people and all people in the Middle East.

    Syriac Military Council & Bethnahrin Women Protection Forces

    Contact information: 11/6/2016

Leave a Comment