Very controversial messages are coming from Syria. While Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov joins the call for putting Syrian chemical weapons under the international control and gets promising messages from the Syrian Foreign minister to do so, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad threatens the USA with “every action” if America strikes. “Every action,” by Mr.Assad, includes even the chemical attack launched by the opposition.
Interview with the President Assad given to Charlie Rose PBC talk show will be shown today at 9 p.m. EDT. It is the first interview in about two years Syrian President gives to an American journalist. During the interview he warned the USA against a military strike on Syria threatening with the consequences. He said they can lead to “repercussions” initiated not only by the government and its allies, but opposition as well.
“You should expect everything. Not necessarily from the government. … You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology.”
President Assad still denies the use of chemical weapons against his citizens on the outskirts of Damascus that killed more than 1400 people including children, and blames the opposition forces trying to involve the USA into the conflict. Earlier he claimed that government controls all chemical weapons Syria possess.
Talking about the chemical attack that happened on August 21st, he said his forces were in another area when attack occurred, and compared the allegations to the false claims about Iraqi nuclear program in 2003.
How serious could threats from Syria be?
It is very unlikely that President Assad can directly challenge American military forces in the region, but certainly he has some options. Syria has strong connections with the Hezbollah organization in Lebanon that promised to attack Israel in the case of an aggression against Syria. Hezbollah fighters are already fighting on the government side in Syria.
Another ally of Bashar Al-Assad, Iran, has long-range missiles in its arsenal and also can easily block the Ormuz strait where about 40 percent of world oil export flows.
Another ally of the Syrian regime, Russia, promised to support Syria in the case of “foreign aggression” – an American strike. However, even though Russia sent additional ships to the Eastern Mediterranean (three Russians ships crossed Bosphorus a few days ago), it is unlikely that Russia can risk a direct confrontation with the USA. Russia can provide strong diplomatic support; most probably Russia will veto any resolution about using force on the UN Security council, but most probably it will not let military interfere into a conflict. The news spread today that Russia finally supported USA’s call for putting all chemical arsenal of the Syrian government under international control and promised all help in trying to persuade the government of Bashar Al-Assad to give up his chemical weapons to avoid American strikes.
An interview with the Syrian President comes the same day with the new Kerry – Lavrov initiative, questioning the seriousness of promises Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem gave Russian Foreign Minister. It also comes just before the National Address President Obama is planning to deliver on Tuesday to seek Congressional and public support to strike Syria.
By Alsu Salakhutdinov