Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, on Tuesday admitted his Syrian ally Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the uprising against his rule, but refused to alter his opposition to western intervention in the crisis.
By: Richard Spencer
Mr Putin contradicted the Syrian regime’s own characterisation of the uprising as the work of foreign-backed “terrorists” in an address on the state-run Russia Today television station.
“Syria as a country was rife for some kind of change,” he said. “And the government of Syria should have felt that in due time and should have undertaken some reform.
“Had they done that, what we’re seeing in Syria today would have never happened.”
Mr Putin has previously appeared to back away from his support for Mr Assad, raising hopes that he would be able to persuade Mr Assad to step down and end the crisis. But Russia now seems determined to back him, at least as far as a proposed peace conference agreed with the United States.
The likelihood of that taking place though has seemed to recede with the recent advances by the Assad regime, and the Western allies are now reconsidering whether to provide arms to the opposition.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, is to visit Washington on Wednesday for talks with John Kerry, the US secretary of state, on the issue, which the state department, defence department and CIA have been discussing with the White House since Monday.
The French foreign ministry said it was also time to address the issue. “We are at a turning point in the Syrian war,” a spokesman said. “What should we do under these conditions to reinforce the opposition armed forces? We have had these discussions with our partners, with the Americans, the Saudis, the Turks, many others. We cannot leave the opposition in the current state.”
Mr Putin said such intervention would not work. “From the outside some people think that if you bring the entire region in compliance with someone’s specific idea of democracy, things will settle down, and everything will be all right in that region,” he said. “But that’s not true.”
Since taking the western town of Qusayr last week, the regime and its allies in the Lebanese Shia militia Hizbollah have begun reinforcing positions around Aleppo, where there has been renewed fighting.
However, the difficulty it has in maintaining security even in its own territory was demonstrated by a double suicide bombing in central Damascus yesterday morning, which killed 14 people and injured 30.
The attack coincided with the arrival from Beirut of a delegation of members of the European Parliament at the invitation of Mr Assad, which included the British National Party leader Nick Griffin.
“Occasional explosions in distance but life in capital normal,” Mr Griffin wrote on Twitter, before meeting the Syrian prime minister, Wael Nader Al-Halqi, and making his own appearance on Russia Today.
“Traffic busy, shops full of goods. Families out in sun. Why turn stable secular state into Iraq-style hell of sectarian hate?”
Source: The Telegraph
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