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Inside Syria
When will Russia change its stance on Syria?
As violence continues in Syria, we ask if it is time for Russia to shift its position on the conflict.
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2012 11:25

A number of Western nations have expelled Syrian diplomats from their countries, after the killings in the town of Houla on May 25, that shocked the world.

And Russia has also come under growing pressure over to get behind the calls to remove Bashar-al-Assad from power.

"What we want to see is that Russia joins the whole world ... they [Russia] are isolated in the world, what are they expecting, what do they want? We know that Russia is not behind Bashar al-Assad, we know that, we know that Russia is behind its own interests ... but why do they think that their interests will be only protected by this regime." 

- Bassam Imadi, Foreign affairs committee member of the Syrian National Council

As violence continued in Syria, International peace envoy Kofi Annan warned that the country was slipping into "all-out" war, saying that the crisis has reached a turning point.

His remarks came during the Arab League foreign ministers' meeting in Doha on Saturday.

"An all-out civil war of a sectarian nature is looming large, thousands of Syrians have been displaced and crisis is now spilling over to the neighbouring countries, tension is mounting, refugees are growing in number, the crisis has come to a turning point and as I’ve said before and I reiterate, I informed president Bashar Al-Assad that he must act immediately to implement all the six points."

However, at their Friday meeting in Paris, French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin disagreed over Syria.

"Bashar Al Assad's regime has behaved in an unacceptable and intolerable way and has committed acts which disqualified the only way out of the situation is with the departure of Bashar Al-Assad," said Hollande.

"I don't believe that Russia is only after material gains ... Russia is not so much after its interests in Syria, it's rather after its principles .... We Russians know very well that the story is not so simple because we have refugees coming from Syria."

- Dimitry Babich, a political analyst at Russia Profile magazine

But Russian president Vladimir Putin said a regime change in Syria would not necessarily bring peace. He also said it was premature to call a ceasefire, brokered by UN envoy Kofi Annan, a failure.

"I think you all know it, that sanctions don't always work. The most important thing that we must do is to prevent the situation from developing in the worst possible way, that is, not to allow a civil war," said the Russian president.

So what is the future of the Annan peace plan and is it time to try something different? And what can the international community do to get Russia to change its position on the Syrian issue?

Inside Syria, with presenter Hazem Sika, discusses with guests: Bassam Imadi, former Syrian ambassador to Sweden and member of the foreign affairs committee of the Syrian National Council; Mara Karlin, a lecturer in Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University, a former Levant director at the Pentagon and adviser to two secretaries of defence; and Dimitry Babich, a political analyst at Russia Profile magazine.

"Russia is seeking its interests and this is clear in its negotiations with the Western countries, namely the United states ... I believe that it is necessary to have a Russian-American understanding on the interests, not just the regional interests, maybe beyond."

Bourhan Ghalioun, Head of the Syrian National Council

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FACTS

  • Russian president meets German and French leaders; Syria talks high on agenda
  • President Putin denies Russia has special interests in Syria
  • Putin: Russia does not support any party in the Syrian conflict
  • US secretary of state: Russia is seen as backing Syrian government
  • French president stresses on need for sanctions on Syrian government
  • Syria denies any responsibility for Houla massacre on May 25
  • More than 100 civilians were killed in Syrian town of Houla on May 25
  • Houla is an opposition stronghold 40km from city of Homs
  • Arab League head Nabil el-Araby condemns attacks in a letter to UN Security Council
  • Arab League urges UN to boost number of monitors in Syria
  • El-Araby asks UN 'to take necessary measures to protect civilians'
  • Violence continues despite ceasefire and UN observers
  • Mandate for 300 UN observers in Syria will expire on July 20

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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