After the hopeless gridlock at the special UN session on the Syrian crisis Thursday, an American delegation headed by Fred Hoff, the Secretary of State’s special adviser on Syria, drew a blank in the talks it conducted at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow Friday, June 8, with Syrian expert, Mikhail Bogdanov.
debkafile’s Moscow sources report exclusively that Moscow has flatly rejected President Barack Obama’s proposal to post 5,000 armed UN monitors in Syria, most of them Russian troops, as the core of a new plan to resolve the Syrian crisis. The Russians may consider convening an international conference, but only if its remit is limited to offering a basis for negotiations between the Assad regime and the opposition and new political reforms. On no account must it deal with Bashar Assad’s removal.
Moscow’s position has grown tougher in the last few days. After Russian officials stated this week that keeping the Assad regime in power was not a priority, Bogdanev said Friday: Moscow isn’t discussing ways to promote Bashar al-Assad’s ouster with Washington. “We aren’t holding such talks.”
He stressed that the only way forward on the Syrian issue was by expanding Annan’s peace plan.
However, the only thing that all the participants at the UN could agree on was that the Annan peace plan had failed. And now that the US mission to Moscow has run into another dead end, the violence in Syria will continue to run riot with no world power or body prepared to step in and stop it.
Adding to the complications, the Syrian conflict and the Iranian nuclear controversy are becoming inextricably intermeshed. The US official Hoff knew he was arriving in Moscow at a grave disadvantage after Iran indicated to the six world powers that it was seriously considering not turning up for their third round of nuclear talks in Moscow on June 18-19.
Its pretext: The West had failed to come up with “serious proposals.”
(DEBKA-Net-Weekly 544 was first out Thursday night, June 7 with the news that Tehran was backing out of the negotiations.)
Most of all, Tehran took umbrage over US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s demand that Iran come to the talks prepared with “concrete steps to curb its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity.”
When she spoke, Clinton knew there was not the slightest chance of the Iranians accepting this demand.
Tehran also pulled in its horns at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna when confronted Friday, June 8, with demands to open up its suspect nuclear sites to international inspection.
These related developments all point in one direction: US President Barack Obama’s deep reluctance to intervene directly in Syria and preference for Russia and Iran to take over have run up against equally powerful reluctance in Moscow and Tehran to put their hands in the Syrian fire or take part in any international effort to quench its flames.
Indeed, the Russians and Iranians believe that as the flames of the civil war already raging there spread, the US president will be blamed by the American public and the Arab world for the horrendous sectarian bloodbath.
And if Obama and America's European allies do decide on military intervention, they will be too late and find themselves pulled down into a bottomless quagmire.