‘Syria being punished for Iran ties’

Syria is to go the Libyan way, with NATO members planning “direct military intervention,” says Nikolay Patrushev, Russia’s Security Council secretary. Russia opposes the Western drive to dismiss Assad and urges political dialogue in the country.

In an interview to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Nikolay Patrushev said that foreign military intervention into Syria could soon become a reality.

“NATO members together with several Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, acting along the Libyan scenario, are intending to turn the current mediated interference in Syrian affairs into a direct military intervention,” Patrushev said.

Aisling Byrne, Projects Coordinator with the Lebanese-based Conflicts Forum agrees the regime change agenda in Syria is a part of a wider tactic in the region.

“This is actually a project very much about the regime change and the aim of it is that it’s a part of [a] war on Iran, which has effectively started,” she told RT. “It is within this context a narrative of a pro-democracy of unarmed protesters is the cover for [a] regime-change project.”

According to the head of the Kremlin security body, this time France, Italy and the UK will not be major providers of attacking forces.

It will probably be Turkey, which neighbors Syria and which till recently was its ally. Turkey is competing with Iran and has huge ambitions,” said Patrushev. “Damascus is to be persecuted not exactly for repressing the opposition, but because it is unwilling to sever ties with Tehran.

Washington and Ankara are now assumed to be negotiating a “no-fly” zone over Syria to help Syrian armed insurgents, added Patrushev.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Interfax there are clear signs that Western states want Bashar al-Assad out.

“Unfortunately the Western approach is fundamentally different from ours,” he said. “According to amendments [to draft UN resolution on Syria, proposed by Russia], made by them, their goal is clearly to achieve the dismissal of the Assad’s regime in Damascus.”

Gatilov added that, conversely, Russia’s position excludes any intrusion into the country’s internal affairs from outside and calls for the conflicting sides to stop violence and begin to solve the problems politically. Russia will continue to negotiate the resolution in the next round of consultations, he said.

The official also noted that Russia supports actions of Arab League observers in the country.

“We believe that their work in Syria is a stabilizing factor which is helping find a political solution,” he said. “We are calling for the Arab observers to continue their stay in Syria and perform the mission prescribed by the mandate issued by the Arab League.”

­Clinton: Assad is “chillingly cynical”

Comments from Russia come a day after President Bashar al-Assad blamed foreign conspiracy for the unrest in his country, where according to UN estimates over 5,000 people have died in the ten-month popular uprising.

We will defeat the conspiracy, without any doubt,” said Assad in his surprise appearance at a pro-government rally, which gathered several thousands of people in Damascus. “We will make this phase the last one of the conspiracy.

The words were slammed several hours later by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Talking at a joint press-conference with the Qatari prime minister, Clinton dubbed the conspiracy accusations a “chillingly cynical speech” and added the US “cannot permit President Assad and his regime to have impunity.

President Assad “was only making excuses, blaming foreign countries, conspiracies, so vast that now it includes the Syrian opposition, the international community, all international media outlets, the Arab League itself,” said Hillary Clinton.

‘Damascus would not shoot at a pro-government rally’

­Meanwhile, a foreign journalist has been killed in Syria for the first time since the anti-government protest began in March 2011. On Thursday, France urged Damascus to shed light on the circumstance of Gilles Jacquier’s death. Jacquier was shot along with eight other people during another pro-government rally in the central city of Homs on January 11.

The opposition moved quickly to lay blame for the incident on President Assad. But Hisham Jaber, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies, says the regime “would have little interest in shooting at its supporters.”

It is silly to accuse the Syrian government of this,” Jaber told RT. “The opposition’s news release is part of a psychological warfare. But this is not credible, in my opinion.

Watch RT’s full interview with Hisham Jaber

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