What Will Hollande Say to Putin? |
Al Hayat - 31 May, 2012
Author: Randa Takieddine
The leaders of Europe did well to expel Syrian ambassadors in their countries, in an expression of their huge disgust at the massacres being committed by the Syrian regime against its people. The slaughter of children and the bombing of civilians in Houla, Homs and all brave Syrian cities are no longer tolerable. There has been brutality, and there are horrific photos of massacres, especially of children. The question today is: Are we in the Stone Age, where such catastrophic and inhumane acts take place, and no one can stop them, because Mr. Obama is busy with his re-election campaign and does not want foreign intervention, and because France is pulling its troops out of Afghanistan and does not want another military intervention?
The expelling of Syrian ambassadors is a symbolic move that will not halt the murder and massacres. What will Russian President Vladimir Putin say to his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, on Paris, when he visits him in Paris? Will he say that terrorists committed massacres in Syria and ignore the brutal Syrian regime's use of Russian weapons and Iranian equipment to liquidate its people? What does Russia want? To have influence in the Syria of the future, after the revolution? To retain its military base in Tartous and make the world understand that it will not be humiliated, as it was in Libya, when NATO forces attacked the country, which then expanded into a military intervention? That it will also not be humiliated in Georgia, when countries intervened to confront Russian hegemony over it and Ukraine?
Putin is steadfast in his defense of a brutal regime that is taking Syria toward civil war, which has begun with massacres. It will be difficult for the Russian president to have influence in a future Syria in the context of a civil war. Perhaps Russia wants to see Syria divided, but what will remain of its influence in such a divided state? Putin wants to act with a free hand in the Caucasus, so that western countries do not get involved in what Russia is doing there. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League agreed to the Annan plan, despite the doubts about its success, in the belief that it was the path that would convince Russia that its ally, the Syrian regime, would not even implement what it itself has asked of it. Putin's visit to Hollande will be of considerable significance, as the new French president will try to make huge efforts to convince Putin that the continuation of murder and civil war in Syria is not in the interest of Russia, or what Russia wants for this country, and that the regime cannot continue with 65 percent of its territory now out of its control. It is true that the Syrian Army remains strong in terms of murder, and its carrying out of the orders of the regime clique, but over the medium-term it is doomed to fall - and at what price?
There is great hope that France, whose new President Hollande has shown that he will not be tolerant with a murderous regime, as Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called it, will pressure its Russian guest to change its stance, so that there will be strong and decisive intervention in the Security Council, and that the killing and destruction will not continue, or perhaps expand into the region.