Russia Would Provide Support to Armed Opposition Groups in Syria Willing to Fight the Islamic State - Putin
“Syria, despite the dramatic situation there now, might become a model for partnership for the sake of our joint interests, for the resolution of our problems, which concern everyone, for working out an effective system of risk management,” said Putin, seemingly laying out a broad plan for global cooperation with the United States and the West in general. (The New York Times, 23 October)
Putin said he hoped the beginning of such cooperation would emerge from talks in Vienna on Friday between the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia as well as the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Putin made his remarks in Sochi at Valdai Discussion Club, an annual gathering of Russian experts, sharing the stage with regional figures, including Ali Larijani, Iran’s speaker of Majlis. Putin added the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who visited him in Moscow earlier in the week, was willing to make a common cause with the armed opponents, as long as they were willing to fight the Islamic State.
“I will pull back the curtain a little on my talks with President Assad,” Putin said, adding that he had proposed providing Russian support to armed opposition groups in Syria that are willing to fight the Islamic State.
“What would be your view if we were to support their efforts in fighting the Islamic State in the same way we are supporting the Syrian Army?” Putin said he asked, and Assad answered, “I would view that positively.” (The New York Times, 23 October)
The Russian leader emphasized that any political transition in Syria would have to be led by the current government, but added that it “should be a transparent process with international monitoring.”
Putin as well as Larijani in their speeches rejected proposals for Syria’s partition, calling them a formula for endless warfare and dangerous gains by the militants.
UPDATE: The foreign ministers of the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey met on Friday in Vienna to put forward new ideas for a political transition in Syria. They agreed to meet again next week in an expanded format, which could include foreign ministers from Iran and other regional countries.
“I am convinced… that today’s meeting was constructive and productive and succeeded in surfacing some ideas… which I hope have a possibility of changing the dynamics,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said after the meeting. (AP, 23 October)
Top photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin at Sochi gathering (BBC)
Bottom photo: From left: Foreign ministers of Turkey, United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia during their meeting on Syria; Vienna, Friday 23 October 2015 (Twitter)