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Annan's Plan Won't Stop War in Syria — Analysts
RIA-Novosti - 4.6.12 - JRL 2012-64

MOSCOW, April 6 (RIA Novosti, Alexey Eremenko)-A UN-backed plan to end the internal conflict in Syria has a slim chance of success because opponents of the Syrian government are funding armed opposition in the country parallel to taking part in peace negotiations, Russian analysts said.

"The situation is a mockery of the very idea of conflict settlement," said Vladimir Bartenev, a global affairs analyst with the Moscow State University.

The plan by Kofi Annan, UN's special envoy to Syria, proposes implementing a ceasefire, ensuring access to humanitarian aid for all citizens, releasing political prisoners, upholding freedoms of movement and association and advancing political process in the country.

The plan was backed by UN's Security Council and, unexpectedly, by Damascus, which is set to withdraw troops from major Syrian cities by April 10. Some 9,000 people were killed in clashes between the government and the opposition in Syria since March 2011, according to the UN's estimates.

However, the Friends of Syria global group said at a conference in Istanbul last weekend that they recognize the opposition as the "sole representative of the Syrian people."

Friends of Syria comprises of some 80 countries opposing the authoritarian Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The group includes most countries of the Persian Gulf and Western countries, among them France, the United Kingdom and the United States, all members of the UN Security Council to which Annan reports.

The opposition announced that unspecified Gulf countries will fund its military wing, the Free Syrian Army, BBC said on Monday. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also promised the opposition a grant of $12 million last Sunday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this week denounced plans to arm opponents of Assad as an attempt to "egg on" the protesters.

Annan's plan is likely to stall Damascus' successful crackdown on the opposition but hostilities will not end until Assad is ousted from power, analysts contacted by RIA Novosti said.

Keep the Face, Play Pretend

Damascus had to accept Annan's plan for the sake of appearances because rejecting a proposal by the UN Security Council would have painted it as a hardliner unfit for dialogue, Bartenev said.

But it is just a formal nod by the global community to international norms of conflict settlement, said Alexei Malashenko, an analyst with Moscow Carnegie Center.

"The schizophrenic situation will go on while Assad is scrambling for a way to survive," Malashenko said.

Lavrov said on Wednesday that the Syrian opposition had no chances of defeating the government forces without foreign intervention such as in Libya, where NATO forces helped oust longstanding ruler Muammar Gaddafi last year.

Assad emerged victorious in the first phase of the civil war, taking control of the big cities and pushing his opponents to the mountains and countryside where they resort to guerilla warfare, said Yevgeny Satanovsky, who heads the Moscow-based Middle East Studies Institute think-tank.

But both Bartenev and Malashenko said that despite military success, Assad's ouster is imminent in the long term.

"The Free Syrian Army will use the time lag to regroup after successful strikes by Assad's forces in March," said Bartenev.

Uprooting Assad

The Syrian president may yet stay in power if he follows the example of the Algerian junta that drowned its opponents in blood during a civil war in 1991-2002, Satanovsky said. But he also conceded that Assad's opponents "will now be gradually uprooting him."

No foreign military invasion is likely but stalling hostilities while giving money and diplomatic support to the Syrian opposition is a roundabout way of weakening Assad's regime, Bartenev said.

Moscow, however, is undermining the possibility of a military intervention by highlighting the negative consequences of a similar invasion in Libya, analysts said. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has demanded on Wednesday that NATO's alleged war crimes in Libya be investigated and said the Libyan conflict triggered the ongoing coup in the country's neighbor Mali.

Keywords: Russia, NATO - Russian News - Russia


Moscow, 5 April -- Moscow sees no possibility for beginning talks on an adapted Treaty on Conventional Weapons in Europe (CFE) until a consensus is reached concerning the subject of the talks, Russian Federation Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko, has stated in an interview with RIA Novosti.

"Talks will not begin on an adapted CFE treaty, because the NATO countries, as is well known, have not ratified the 1999 Agreement on Adaptation," he said.

In the words of the high-ranking diplomat, "the possibility of developing the treaty on this basis was thereby closed off."

He indicated that the adapted CFE treaty is obsolete, and does not correspond to contemporary military-political realities. At the present time informal consultations are being held concerning the launch of talks on a fundamentally new regime for controlling conventional weapons in Europe, Grushko noted.

"They could begin when a consensus is reached concerning the subject of the talks, and if no attempts are undertaken to artificially link questions of arms control per se with political questions," the Russian Federation deputy foreign minister said.

At the end of March, Acting US Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller stated that the United States sees the possibility for cooperating with Russia on the CFE treaty. "But in order to continue the dialog, we must see new possibilities for the CFE treaty in the 21st century," she said.

The CFE treaty was signed by the Warsaw Pact and NATO states in 1990. Twenty-eight European states, and also the United States and Canada, are participants in the CFE treaty. The treaty imposes limitations on five categories of conventional weapons and equipment -- tanks, armored fighting vehicles, artillery weapons with a caliber of 100m and above, combat aircraft, and strike helicopters -- and provides for an exchange of information and extensive inspection activity.

A year after the signing of the treaty, the collapse of the USSR occurred. An updated version of the CFE treaty with the inclusion of new terms was signed in 1999 at the OSCE summit in Istanbul. With the acceptance of several East European states into NATO, the treaty's main principle concerning the need to ensure the balance of forces lost meaning. The treaty was maintained only thanks to the exchange of information and inspections. The United States announced the cessation of providing information under the CFE treaty 22 November last year.

Russia declared the unilateral suspension of participation in the CFE treaty in 2007, giving as its reason the unwillingness of NATO countries to ratify the adapted version of the treaty adopted in 1999. The decision was occasioned "by exceptional circumstances influencing the Russian Federation's security." At the same, Moscow is not rejecting the adoption of an adapted CFE treaty, and is waiting for it to be accepted by NATO partners. On the basis of the new document, for each member state arms and equipment are due to be transferred from the treaty's bloc structure to national and territorial levels.

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