Russia is behind Syria’s conditional approval of an observers’ committee

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Russia was the main reason behind Syria’s conditional approval of the Arab League’s initiative and its willingness to allow a committee of observers to monitor the situation in the country, diplomatic sources told Al Arabiya.

According to the sources, Moscow put intense pressure on Damascus and took part in drafting a response to the Arab League in a way that allows for more maneuvering on Syria’s part with both Arab and foreign countries.

The sources explained that Russia’s stance reflects its attempt to strike a balance between its interests in the Middle East and its reputation on the international level, especially in the light of worldwide reports about the violations of the Syrian regime.

Russia, the sources added, intentionally leaked reports about its role in lobbying for giving the committee of observers access to Syria. This was clear in statements made by the Russian deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov.

Reports that reached Al Arabiya said that Syria and Russia have formed “a crisis cell” and that the hot line between the two countries is open 24/7.

Al Arabiya learned from both these sources and other Arab and regional contacts that the Russian leadership is working on two fronts: the first is providing Syria with a defense line, and the second is pushing the Syrian regime to offer some concessions provided that they do not include the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad or the questioning of his legitimacy.

Al Arabiya also learned from reliable sources that Russia is counting on some kind of compromise to be reached between the Syrian regime and the Arab League that would allow the observers to enter the country under certain conditions.

The decision by Washington, London, and Paris to return their ambassadors to Damascus, sources argue, demonstrates that observers might be in Syria soon and that the diplomats of the three countries want to make sure they are there when and if the committee’s work starts.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)