By Ilya Kharlamov
This week, the international attention has been focused on the “hot” phase of the conflict in Syria. Government forces dislodged rebels from Syria’s second largest city Aleppo where opposition forces had planned to organize a base for foreign assistance and a springboard for launching further attacks.
Syrian and Jordanian servicemen clashed on the border between the two countries. The US slapped new sanctions on Damascus, while the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored the importance of maintaining the presence of international observers in Syria whose mandate expires in August. Mr.Ban holds rebel forces responsible for the escalation of military operations in Aleppo.
Hopes voiced by Pentagon chief Leon Panetta to the effect that seizure of Aleppo by rebel forces would “drive the last nail into Assad’s coffin” fell through. The battle for Aleppo was deemed decisive by all parties involved, including the Assad regime, the rebel forces, and experts in the West. In case of success, the opposition was prepared to seize neighboring Idlib and turn it into a powerful base for launching new attacks. Western media kept repeating that seizure of Aleppo would provide the ‘Syrian uprising’ with a new vigor and would force the president to quit.
Judging by the recent developments, the situation is changing in favor of the authorities. Andrey Volodin of the Oriental Research Center met with a Voice of Russia correspondent.
“Evidently, rebel forces which consist of defectors, mercenaries and members of al-Qaeda, are powerless against a regular army. The West is thus faced with a dilemma: to leave everything as it is, or resort to a military intervention. Syria, Iran, Iraq, and probably, Lebanon, are planning to form an economic alliance. Opposition forces have become active in Turkey driven by a belief that President Erdogan’s policies are too premature and detrimental to the country’s interests. Erdogan is beginning to cross the Red Line drawn by Kemal Ataturk which precludes going beyond the borders of Turkey.”
However, Ankara is doggedly pursuing this track. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Turkey, reportedly to discuss support for Syria’s split opposition and Syria’s development after Bashar Assad’s departure with the Turkish leadership.
The Syrian people and authorities have a clear plan of action, says Oleg Fomin, co-chairman of the Russian Committee for Solidarity with Syria.
“The Syrian people should continue to defend their cities and villages against invaders and see to it that all sober-minded groups within the Syrian society agreed to sit down at the negotiating table. They should also foster relations with Russia, China, Venezuela, and Cuba – countries that support Syria. Hopefully, the circle of the so-called “Friends of Syria” will expand as more countries favor Damascus’ position over that of neo-globalists, who are trying to subdue Syria and restore chaos in the Middle East.”
As it became clear in the wake of the Aleppo battle, rebel forces include a large number of foreign mercenaries from Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Contacted by a Voice of Russia correspondent, the commander of the Free Syrian Army Riad al-Asaad denied the presence of al-Qaeda linked terrorists among rebel forces. According to Riad al-Asaad, the Syrian opposition is against all forms of extremism. Strange as it might seem, extremism seems to be the mildest word to describe the methods opposition forces are using against the country’s legitimate authorities.
Rebels and their western patrons are waging an info war. This week, they posted a report saying that a Russian general who coordinated the government’s military operations against the rebels was killed in Syria. Later in the week, the general met in person with journalists in Moscow.
As the armed conflict in Syria rages on, a number of countries have been making attempts to stop the bloodshed. Ministers from more than twenty countries and a UN representative gathered in Tehran on August 9th to discuss Syria. Nevertheless, the situation is following the worst scenario, Irina Zvyagelskaya of the Oriental Studies Institute, says.
“The purpose of the current scenario is to force the regime to disintegrate and President Assad to resign. The opposition is set on pressing on with their demands. Once they achieve their goal, they will start to build a regime of their own, but their regime is unlikely to be better than the current one.”
Washington and Brussels have been adding fuel to the fire by threatening to use force. The US has slapped new sanctions on Assad’s government and organizations that help Syria’s leadership. The US Treasury Department has included Hezbollah in the list of organizations that support the Syrian president. Earlier sanctions which were imposed on Syria by the US and the EU have brought no results.