Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Follow Russia's lead, “Then, dear friends, there would be no need for new refugee camps.”

Is this a glimpse of the Putin strategy? Take a look:

Refugee Crisis in Europe Prompts Western Engagement in Syria
[...] France, which backed the idea of airstrikes against the Syrian government after accusing it of conducting chemical weapons attacks two years ago, is now carrying out airstrikes against his enemies on the battlefield, hitting Islamic State forces. The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said Wednesday that France was open to the military operations of Mr. Assad’s main ally, Russia, so long as Mr. Assad’s air force stopped using barrel bombs and he was willing to agree to a political transition.

Secretary of State John Kerry echoed the need for political talks on Syria, saying at the Security Council on Wednesday that Mr. Assad would have to “decline to be part of its long-term future.”

Even on the question of Mr. Assad’s departure, there has been a discernible shift. Western diplomats on the Security Council are saying that Mr. Assad would not have to step down right away, but rather at the end of a political transition process. They are also taking pains to say that, having learned from the experience of Iraq, they are keen to avoid a wholesale purge of his government, preferring to sideline “tens, not hundreds,” of his associates, as one Security Council diplomat put it, to maintain stability.

Another Council diplomat said that dismantling Mr. Assad’s army would be far too risky in the face of the threat posed by the Islamic State.

The refugee crisis has become such a central element in the political calculus that it has been used as a rhetorical mortar to lob at rivals.

When the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, called on his Western rivals this week to join his country and the Syrian government to defeat the Islamic State, he clearly poked at European concerns, saying, “Then, dear friends, there would be no need for new refugee camps.” [...]
But would the refugees go back, with Assad still in power? Because the Syrian rebels are not going to win this one. Russia is making sure of that:

Vladimir Putin defies West as Russia bomb 'Syrian rebel targets instead of Isil' - live updates

And who will aid the Syrian rebels? No one. If some sort of peace plan is brokered, would any of the refugees return to Syria? Would the flood of refugees leaving cease? Who knows. I imagine it would depend on the specifics of the plan, and if Assad was still in power. Not all the refugees were rebels, and there are even different rebel groups, that fight with each other. Anyway, we shall see what happens...

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