Syria in for a summer offensive
LEADERS OF THE G8 countries – United States, Japan, Canada, Russia, Germany, France, Britain and Italy (representing just over half of the US$71.7 trillion global economy) – met this week in Ireland ostensibly to discuss the global economy.
However, the conflict in Syria predictably dominated the summit which began on Monday, with Russia facing pressure to back away from its unwavering support for President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia is Syria’s traditional ally in the Middle East and offers it a bridgehead to the Mediterranean Sea with a steady flow of arms to the regime in much the same way as Israel is to the United States. It is therefore unlikely that any sense of objectivity will prevail in Ireland.
Summit host Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, who had initially hoped for talks to focus on finance and trade, said Monday his priority was to ensure a peace conference on the Syria conflict takes place later this year.
Russia and other friends of Syria have repeatedly spoken about the need for a political solution, while acting in the exact opposite manner. They have flooded Syria with weapons, supplies and fighters, while calling for dialogue.
Talk of a Syria peace conference in Geneva has been mooted in recent weeks, but the word “peace” has been the last thing on anyone’s mind. The other sticking point is the precondition that al-Assad leaves office; but this is highly unlikely.
In April, during a television interview, al-Assad struck a highly combative tone, interpreted by some as a war cry against the West in preparation for a more forceful summer offensive. He said there was an attempt at “cultural colonization, meaning ideological invasion, leading in one of two directions”.
“Either Syria becomes subservientand submissive to big powers and theWest, or it becomes subservient to obscurantist, extremist forces. We need to hold on ever more strongly to the meaning of independence.”
With this type of belligerence, thereis little sign the Syrian regime has any intention of entering into any negotiations over an exit for al-Assad, especially now that the regime seems to have achieved ascendancy over the rebels with the helpof Hezbollah.
So much so that Western diplomats have concluded there is no other way to pressure the regime other than militarily. United States’ commitment to provide military support to the Syrian opposition has been met with some muted optimism from the rebels, but after more than two years of meaningless promises, it is not surprising.
The major powers are prepared to support the rebels in an effort to get rid of al-Assad but unwittingly or deliberately, would have colluded in the demise of Syria, removing one of Israel’s main enemies in the region.