Assad’s ouster won’t solve Syria crisis: Russia
MOSCOW RUSSIAN President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday it was “short-sighted” to think that the crisis in Syria would be solved if President Bashar al Assad agreed to Western calls to step down.
“To think that Assad’s departure would mean the removal of all the problems is a very short-sighted position and everyone understands that if this happened the conflict would most likely continue,” the ITAR-TASS news agency quoted Medvedev as telling Russian reporters at a summit in Seoul.
Medvedev added that he wanted “the Syrian people, and not respected leaders of other states, to make the decisions about Syria’s fate.” He said Syria should at all costs avoid the fate of Libya where NATO carried out air strikes that played a key role in the downfall of Moamer Qadhafi despite Kremlin protests.
“There is no democracy there,” Medvedev was quoted as saying. “There is no Qadhafi there but there is no democracy there either, noone knows how long this will last. This state has yet to remain on the map as a single entity.” Libya, with only embryonic state institutions, is going through a tough post-conflict period, and the unilateral proclamation of independence by figures in eastern Libya has revived fears of a partition of the country.
Western powers have repeatedly urged Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council with veto powers and a key ally of Syria, to use its influence with Assad’s regime to persuade it to end a deadly crackdown on protesters in Syria.
Russia had blocked two resolutions on Syria, but last week backed a Westerndrafted statement that called on Assad to work towards a cessation of hostilities and a democratic transition.
Washington has suggested Russia’s position on Syria might have evolved over the past months but the Kremlin counters that its stance on the conflict has never changed.