Before I dive into all the breaking news on our miserable Syrian foreign policy, let’s look at what Russian FM Lavrov had to say today…
…Lavrov told Bloomberg that Russia wants to understand if their partners in America and the United Nations are really consistent with the idea of the Geneva 2 conference on Syria as their actions keep sending the wrong message to the country’s opposition…
“The message the opposition is getting: ‘Guys, don’t go to Geneva. Don’t say that you are going to negotiate with the regime. Soon things will change in your favor.’ So, that’s what we want to clarify. It’s either the conference or the instigation of the opposition not to be flexible. I don’t think it’s possible to do both at the same time”
The Foreign Minister reminded that Russia has been pushing for the peace solution “irrespective of the situation on the ground,” while the West started speaking of a conference only after Assad’s forces began advancing on the rebels.
“They weren’t ready to discuss it when many people believed that the opposition would take Damascus in recent weeks. If now they’ll be moving in the direction of what some opposition leaders are saying – namely, let’s first restore military balance on the ground and then we’ll go the conference. This’ll be a disaster for all diplomatic efforts because this would never end.”
The first problem is the representation of the rebels at the talks as “not each and every important opposition group wants to go under the umbrella of the [Syrian National] Coalition because” because it’s “taking quite radical positions” and doesn’t have any vision for the country’s future.
The FM also said that “the most effective military group fighting the regime in Syria”, the Jabhat al-Nusra, isn’t going to be invited to the talks at all.
“It’s not for them to decide whether they’ll come to the conference or not. They can’t be even considered. They are terrorists and they must be treated as terrorists.”
The second problem with the invitees’ list is the participation of foreign states in the Geneva 2 conference.
“We’re absolutely convinced that all Arab neighbors of Syria must be invited. And Iran must be there that’s something, which I believe is absolutely unavoidable if we want the process, which is inclusive, and if we want all important outside players to be there to push the Syrians to an agreement. And so far there are doubts on the part of the US regarding the invitation of Iran and, I believe, this is delaying.”
The Russian FM once again warned the US against arming the rebels, but said that weapons are “anyway” coming to Syria…
Well, lah-di-da… From the LA Times…
White House officials refused to comment Friday on a Los Angeles Times report that CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons since late last year, saying only that the U.S. had increased its assistance to the rebellion.
The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey began months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming the opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders.
“We have stepped up our assistance, but I cannot inventory for you all the elements of that assistance,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “We have provided and will continue to provide substantial assistance to the Syrian opposition, as well as the Supreme Military Council.”
The Supreme Military Council is the military arm of an umbrella group that represents more moderate rebel factions, including the Free Syrian Army.
The training and Obama’s decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels have raised hope among the beleaguered opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well. So far, the rebels say they lack the weapons they need to regain the offensive in Syria’s bitter civil war…
Do you want an inventory, Jay…? Anyways…Rebels claim ‘game-changing’ weapons…
…The “Friends of Syria” group of countries that support the rebels was expected to announce in Doha on Saturday that it would arm the opposition, FSA media and political co-ordinator spokesman Louay Muqdad said.
“We’ve received quantities of new types of weapons, including some that we asked for and that we believe will change the course of the battle on the ground.
“We have begun distributing them on the front lines, they will be in the hands of professional officers and FSA fighters,” he said.
He did not specify what weapons had been received or when they had arrived, but added that a new shipment was expected in the coming days and recalled that the rebels had asked for “deterrent weapons.”
“That means anti-aircraft weapons, anti-tank weapons, as well as ammunition,” he said.
Senior opposition figure Burhan Ghalioun confirmed that the FSA had recently received “sophisticated weapons” including “an anti-aircraft defence system.”
Another opposition source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the system was “Russian-made” but declined to say which country had supplied it.
The apparent influx of arms comes after the United States said it would provide rebel forces with “military support,” although it has declined to outline what that might entail.
“The weapons will be used for one objective, which is to fight the regime of (President) Bashar Al Assad,” Muqdad insisted.
“They will be collected after the fall of the regime, we have made this committment to the friends and brotherly countries” that supplied the arms,” he said…
*snort* Are you kidding…? When they can’t even dole out the ‘humanitarian aid‘ in a timely fashion…