Are Russia and China Committed to Pull Their Support for Assad?

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Reaffirming its strongest support to Kofi Annan’s political transition plan for Syria, the United States of America today underlined that the plan has delivered a strong language in Geneva despite the unhelpful response from China and Russia.

During an interview with Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the plan pledged to support a transitional governing body whose members can only be put on that body by mutual consent.

“So I think the important achievement was to get a unified P-5, plus the permanent members of the Security Council, plus other key actors to really endorse Kofi Annan’s guidelines and principles so that he was empowered.” -Ms. Clinton

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UN inspectors and monitors with the UNSMIS observer mission are shown during a meeting following renewed shelling this weekend in the city of Homs, Syria.

UN Photo

Ms. Clinton says if there are strong support to the plan, Mr. Annan can now go to the Assad regime and say they have to start talking about a transition and not be met with well.

However, they don’t have to do that, because Russia and China don’t agree with the United States, Ms. Clinton stressed.

“And I believe that it was a significant step forward in giving him the tools that he needs to test whether it is possible to mediate this very bloody, violent conflict.” -Ms. Clinton

She notes that she didn’t know that they were going to be able to get anything when they started.

“There was every reason to believe that we would never get the Russians and the Chinese on board or that we would ever satisfy the legitimate anxieties of the region about what is happening on their doorstep.” -Ms. Clinton

She stresses that it’s not enough just to wring their hands and make impassioned speeches about how terrible the Assad regime is and how they are deteriorating into a civil war that will have regional consequences.

“We needed to put some flesh on the bones.” -Ms. Clinton

She underlines that the only way to do that within the existing framework was to empower Kofi Annan.

“That’s what Mr. Annan’s was asking for; that’s what he wanted.” -Ms. Clinton

With regards to the United States publicly criticizing Russia for selling arms to the Syrian regime, Ms. Clinton stresses that the United States believes that ending the arming of the Assad government is the first order of business.

She notes that the Russians continue to claim that they are not providing anything that can be used to suppress internal dissent.

However, the US government begs to differ, she added.

“I think where we are today gives us the basis for going to the UN Security Council to discuss what consequences have to be considered and imposed if after empowering Kofi Annan he comes to the Security Council and reports to us.” -Ms. Clinton

Last week, amid the turmoil engulfing Syria, speculations began to surface that ties are strained as US and Russia disagee over the path forward to end crisis in Syria.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today said the United States highly value a positive relationship with Russia.

However, she pointed out that both countries also disagree on other issues.

She stresses the US government has made it clear to the Russians that the outcome they are most concerned about, which would be a sectarian civil war, is made more likely, not less likely, by the international community’s failure to take a strong position vis-A -vis the Assad regime.

Reports say Russia is still refusing to condemn the war crimes committed by the Syrian regime.

In October, Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution that would have condemned the Assad regime. Russia is opposed to the establishment of safe no-fly zones which means that Russia is explicitly supporting the war-crimes committed by the regime.

Media reports say Sergei Lavrov the Russian Foreign Minister blamed the opposition.

Reports say that Russia is deploying naval military ships in the Mediterranean in an apparent gesture of support for the Assad’s regime.

Some analysts reportedly believe that Russia is worried about its heavy investments in Syria. Russia reportedly invested $30 billion in energy and tourism infrastructure and it has a naval base in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous. Reports say Russia fears that one day the international community might act against one of its client states in the old Soviet Union.

Earlier this week, recognizing Russia’s strategic importance to the United States, Deputy Secretary William J. Burns said U.S.-Russia relations are often an uneasy mix of competition and cooperation.

In his remarks on Russia’s WTO accession at DC, Mr. Burns stressed that the US has real and continuing differences with Russia.

Mr. Burns said he has spent a good deal of his diplomatic career helping Administrations of both parties navigate US complicated relationship with Russia.

He stressed that while it may be tempting to downplay Russia’s importance, the United States simply does not have that luxury.

He noted that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council; as one of the world’s largest nuclear powers; and as the world’s single largest producer of hydrocarbons, Russia’s strategic importance to the U.S. will matter for many years to come.

In May this year, the United States of America underlined that it’s in US interest to graduate Russia from Jackson-Vanik.

The United States’ trade relationship with Russia is tied to a provision of U.S. trade law (the Jackson-Vanik amendment) enacted in the 1970s to condition normal trade relations (NTR) status on the then-Soviet Union’s willingness to let Jews emigrate freely.

The United States asserts that Jackson-Vanik should be lifted simply unrelated to anything else because it’s in US interest, at the same time strongly supports the goals of the Cardin legislation.

President Obama has been looking of areas of common interest, try to reach practical, real substantive agreements while also being very clear that there would be things we would disagree on and we wouldn’t sweep them under the carpet as we pursued these things, Mr. Gordon added.

Both countries have accomplished numerous thing particularly the New START Treaty or cooperation on Afghanistan which has been very significant to their efforts; or the 123 Nuclear Agreement on civil nuclear cooperation; Russian support on North Korea; and, particularly Iran.

Both countries have been working very hard, in US own interest, to reach an agreement that would benefit the two countries.

The United States has been very clear about the importance of democracy, human rights, and civil society in US foreign policy.

Russia’s membership in the world’s largest rules-based trading system is said to provide tangible benefits to Russia as well as for U.S. businesses.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.