U.S. could be directly involved in crisis in Syria - Pushkov

MOSCOW,(ST)-Providing military assistance to Syria's "opposition" is a path toward Washington's direct involvement in the crisis in  Syria, Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov said, according to Voice of Russia.

"I will not be surprised if a certain period of time after the arms embargo is lifted, we will see steps that will mean U.S. direct involvement in this conflict," Pushkov said.

U.S. weapons supplies to "insurgents" in Syria are unlikely to cause any drastic changes in the balance of power in the Syrian conflict, especially as this balance has recently turned in favor of the Syrian government, he said.

"If the "insurgents" in Syria prove unable to resolutely defeat the Syrian government, the U.S. administration will embark on a path of escalating military involvement in the conflict," he said.

This information alleging the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government cannot be treated as reliable, he said.

"There is no evidence that the government of Syria used them. I believe that the most probable scenario is the following: these weapons were used by the "insurgents "in Syria in order to provoke an international investigation and accuse the Syrian  government of it," the Russian parliamentarian said.

Claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons cannot be trusted after what happened in 2003, when "a whole war was based on the monumental lies about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," Pushkov said.

"I have a feeling that it is a planned action as certain circles in the U.S. want Obama to boost U.S. involvement in the crisis in Syria," he said. Pushkov said he would not be surprised if the U.S. president eventually bowed to this pressure. The Iraqi scenario is being repeated in Syria, he added.

Sending US arms to Syrian opposition may result in direct military intervention - MP

US arms deliveries to the Syrian "opposition" will hardly result in an overthrow of the Bashar al-Assad regime, says the Chairman of the Russian Duma International Affairs Committee, Alexei Pushkov, in an interview with the ITAR-TASS news agency.

 “the Syrian government  relies on the support of a large, if not the larger part of the population, and this is his important reserve. The Syrian  Army has displayed on numerous occasions that it is quite resistive. The US will hardly manage to drastically change the correlation of forces just by boosting its arms shipments for the "opposition” Pushkov says. 

Hence the question, he says, just what will the US do next? “I believe”, Pushkov says, the US will follow the path of escalation in hostilities. Now it is arming the "rebels", then it will decide on some form of direct internal invasion. Nor can we rule out airstrikes with the use of cruise missiles, coupled with a direct military invasion, provided the previous measures prove fruitless”, the Chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee said.


Putin, Obama to tackle crisis in Syria :McFaul

The alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria will be high atop the agenda of the upcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland next week, according to Voice of Russia, TASS.

This came today from the US Ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, who told reporters Moscow and Washington were deeply engaged in a discussion of the crisis in Syria.


US Committed to Political Solution to Syria Crisis – Kerry

WASHINGTON (ST) _ US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed his country 's commitment to a political solution to the crisis in Syria, noting that the  forthcoming  International Conference on Syria is the framework to achieve that.

 In a  press conference  with his British peer William Hague on Wednesday, Kerry made doubled  standard statements by saying that his country is making  talks on  helping  the " Syrian opposition" in the  war against the Syrian government and that efforts are refocused  on supporting " the opposition  in order to maintain power balance  on the ground, while simultaneously  talked about a solution to the Syrian crisis through dialogue .

"Nobody wins in Syria the way things are going," Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters Wednesday after meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague. "The people lose and Syria as a country loses. And what we have been pushing for, all of us involved in this effort, is a political solution that ends the violence, saves Syria, stops the killing and destruction of the entire nation."

Despite increased support in Congress and the administration for lethal aid, officials said those closest to the president are divided on whether to begin providing Syria's armed opposition with weapons or to consider more drastic steps such as using U.S. airpower to ground Syria 's  gunships and jets.

According to AP Obama's moves throughout the 27-month war against Syria , from political support for the "opposition"  to nonlethal aid for its more moderate fighters, have occurred in close concert with America's partners in Europe. All agree at this point that the efforts haven't done enough. After meeting Kerry at the State Department, Hague also stressed the need for a political solution to end the fighting that has now killed some 80,000 people, without outlining how his government might contribute.

Officials said some at the White House, the Pentagon and in the intelligence community remained hesitant about providing weapons, ammunition or other lethal support to " Opposition"  increasingly defined by extremists. Instead, they've focused on nonlethal support, such as Wednesday's decision by the Treasury Department to ease restrictions on Syrian telecommunications, agricultural and petroleum transactions that benefit the opposition.

Even if nothing is decided this week, officials said the U.S., Britain and France, who together spearheaded the international intervention that helped overthrow Libya's regime  in 2011, were trying to coordinate a common approach before Obama meets with his colleagues at next week's G-8 gathering of world leaders. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syria 's most powerful military and political backer, also will be present at the Northern Ireland summit.

On Wednesday, activists said terrorists  in a village in the country's east, killed more than 60 people, including civilians. Earlier this week, a 15-year-old boy was executed in public by Islamist rebel fighters in the city of Aleppo for taking the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's name in vain.

Approving lethal aid, however, brings with it an assortment of new challenges for the administration and its allies. They would then have to decide what weapons to provide, whom to give them to, what training to offer and who should do the training, U.S. and Western officials said. One Western official involved in strategy rejected the notion that weapons and ammunitions shortages were even the problem, citing poor military strategy and the inability of Syria's fractured opposition to coordinate effectively against Syria 's more disciplined army.


T. Fateh

US and Russia must do “everything possible” to stop violence in Syria, Lavrov

MOSCOW, (ST)_ Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov says the US and Russia must do “everything possible” to stop violence in Syria, warning that people who fight the Syrian army are “very well armed,” among them “the terrorist organization created by the United States - Al-Nusra Front.”

“Russian TV, RT, quoted Minister Lavrov as saying in a press interview with CBS ''This is a tragedy. What must be done and that's where the US and Russia see eye to eye is to do everything to stop it. You know that alongside with the opposition which is called Free Syrian Army terrorist organizations fight. And one of them was the terrorist organization created by the United States  - Al-Nusra Front. Immediately the political leaders of the opposition said it was a mistake and betrayal because Al-Nusra cannot be listed as terrorist organization as long as it fights the regime,” the Russian foreign minister said in an interview with CBS in Moscow.

He added that back in the 1970s and ’80s the US was supporting Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviet troops. “Then these Mujahideen gave rise to Al-Qaeda, and then Al-Qaeda struck back,” Lavrov said.

Russia is hoping to try to resolve the Syria crisis at the peace conference, due in July, which could gather all interested parties, including the Syrian government, various Syrian opposition groups, regional powers like Iran and others. But doing it requires a genuine joint effort.

“We want Syria to stay united, one piece, sovereign territorial integrity respected,” Lavrov stated.


M. Wassouf

Lavrov: Attempts to Arm Syrian "Opposition" Prevent Conference


RIO DE JANEIRO - The West’s attempts to arm the "Syrian opposition" hinder efforts to hold an international conference on Syria, the Russian foreign minister said, according to the Ria Novosti

 "The Syrian opposition’s statement is that the conference is possible only when the military balance on the ground is restored,” Sergei Lavrov told journalists.

“But if this criterion is taken into account, we will never convene that conference,” he said.

"Conniving at such sentiments of opposition figures in favor of arming them for them to regain some additional areas, I think, means acting directly against the prospective conference,” Lavrov said.

Moscow insists that Syria’s neighbors as well as Iran and Egypt be invited to the conference, Lavrov also said.

"We believe that representation of Arab countries without Egypt at the conference would be flawed,” he said. “Unfortunately, our partners are against such full-fledged representation of the regional countries at the conference, with a special objection to invitation of Iran.”

H. Mustafa

India Renews Peaceful Solution to Crisis in Syria

NEWDELHI,(ST)_India has  confirmed its support for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria and readiness  to do so  if  invited to take part  in the international conference on Syria in Geneva.

In an exclusive meeting  with journalists, a senior official in the Indian Foreign Ministry said  that his country's position was clear since  the beginning of the crisis in rejecting  external interference , halting  violence and the Syrian people to decide  their own destiny,  pointing to the good relations between India and Syria and bilateral economic and trade  projects.

The Indian official expressed his country 's  deep concern over  activities of armed terrorist groups in Syria and the  Turkish, Qatari and  Saudi support  for these groups, which led to a further influx of terrorists and increased the complexity of the situation besides  the implications of lifting the ban on the sale of weapons to the Syrian opposition, warning that this decision   will have grave traces on the  future of security and stability in the region and possible  expansion of the war.

Last March, the  Indian National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon stressed  his country's support for peaceful efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria and rejection of outside interference in the Syrian internal affairs, stressing that the solution must be, by the Syrians themselves.


T. Fateh

Putin: The West Fights in Mali what it Supports in Syria

Moscow ,(ST) -Russian President Vladimir Putin renewed  his country's  principled position on  the crisis in Syria provides  to avail the  opportunity for  the Syrian people to determine their future , maintaining  rights and security for all and then move on to make institutional changes , not vice versa as other do ,  in expelling all and extending chaos on the country.

Putin stressed in an interview to Russia's English-language state television network RT,  that the West is fighting in Mali forces what it supports  in Syria , a matter which confirms the Western double standards , wondering where the logic in that.

"al- Nusra Front which is an essential component of the armed opposition in  Syrian is on the U.S. terrorism list," he said ,  wondering if  this front will join the Syrian government. "

"The country was ripe for serious changes, and the leadership should have felt that in time and started making changes. Then what is happening would not have happened," Putin said", stressing that Russia is not acting as an advocate for Assad and blamed the West for violent upheaval in the Middle East.

Putin noted that his country refuses to intervene in Islamic sectarian conflicts . He added that  Russia has good and distinct  relations with the Islamic world, stressing "that the current developments in the Middle East worry Russia. "Egypt is now living in a state of crisis, Iraq is unquiet  and Yemen is in a tense  situation , and the same in Libya , where  ethnic and sectarian conflicts overwhelm between tribes , and the whole region now live a phase of ambiguities and conflicts, including Syria, while some from the outside  believe that what they call democracy will achieve security, stability and this is not true because we must take into account the traditions and heritage of these countries away from  foreign interventions as they did in Libya, which suffers  devastation and inter- fighting".

Putin warned that applying  the same positions adopted in Libya on the situation in Syria will lead to see Syria having  the same developments in Libya now. He exclaimed :  "Is it not enough that there is  a terrorist bow  stretching between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where  terrorists act violently in an area adjoining  our borders, a matter which raises our concern. "

On Iran's nuclear program Putin stressed he does not doubt that Iran is abiding by the treaty on nuclear arms non-proliferation. 

Russia is willing to further cooperate with Iran, as long as it acts within the international mandates, the President said. 

 “You don’t see proof of the contrary,” he said, also citing the recent IAEA report supporting his point. 

Speaking about mass demonstrations, the President said that “any opposition is good, right and helpful” if it acts within the law. 

He admitted that if people are not satisfied with the laws, the opposition should aim to change them in “democratic way.” 

In case demonstrators break the law, the government should control protesters, “put them put them in the legislative field.” 

“This is what's happening both in the US and in Russia,” Putin said. “Though when we do that we are criticized, but when [United] States does, it is a norm. These are the so-called double standards,” he added. 

Speaking about the United States and opposition movements, Putin stressed that it is not right that the State Department supports “opposition in Russia.” 

“Russia doesn’t try to influence Occupy activists, yet foreign agents try to do this in Russia,” he said, referring to the Occupy movement that initially started from protests in New York and then spread worldwide. 

The Russian President concluded by saying that  the  experience of establishing RT in  2005 was intended to break Anglo-Saxon media monopoly .

T. Fateh

Turkish Police Storms Taksim Square Using Tear Gas, Pressurized Water against Protestors

ISTANBUL- Turkish riot police used tear gas and pressurized water to enter Taksim Square on Tuesday morning, where Gezi Park protests have been continuing for two week, according to The Turkish Hurriyet.

Police used tear gas and pressurized water against a handful of protesters clashing with the police, while the majority of the protesters retreated to the Gezi Park and asked everybody to keep calm.

Clashes between police and small groups of protesters continue in streets and alleys around the Taksim Square.Gezi Park is relatively calm aside from the effects of the tear gas generously used in the square.

The Turkish police raid allowed removal of barricades and banners.

At least two people have been wounded so far in the clashes, according to Hürriyet Daily News sources.

Olat Güden, a young protestor who was hit with a gas canister, said the police fired the gas bomb from 50 meters away pointing the gas gun to his face.

"I had a Turkish flag in my hand and I was trying to stop the clash between the protestors and police, I was in the middle and he hit me," Güden told the Hürriyet Daily News on the while volunteer doctors was treating his heavily injured right leg.

One of the injured was unconscious, possibly passed out. Police have continued using gas in the Sıraselviler, Tarlabaşı and Elmadağ sections of Taksim. One of the protesters told the Daily News that the police had aimed tear gas at his face, and when he turned around the run away, the gas capsule hit him in the leg.

Despite constant announcements by police forces warning Gezi Park crowds to remain in the park, protesters are currently trying to approach the clashes in a move to show support and solidarity with those under police intervention.

H. Mustafa