Putin Raises a Crucial Question:
Wasn't Libya a Mistake?
Dec. 21, 2012 (EIRNS)—At his annual year-end press conference on Dec. 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin cut to the chase on the question of the dominant Western policy on Syria. Asked by Associated Press if Russia isn't "losing its influence" through the policy it's taken against pushing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave, President Putin answered:
"OK, fine. Listen, my dear man, hasn't Russia lost its positions in Libya after what the interventionists set loose there? Regardless of how they have explained their position, the state is falling apart. Ethnic, clan, and tribal conflicts are continuing. Furthermore, there was even such a tragedy as the murder of the U.S. Ambassador. Is this the result of [their] work? I have been asked about mistakes; wasn't that a mistake? Do you want us to repeat these mistakes constantly in other countries?
"Our concern is not with the fate of the Assad regime. We understand what's going on and that this family has been in power for 40 years. Of course there is a demand for change. But our concern is something different: what happens next. We do not want to see the current opposition, upon becoming the government, simply launching a fight against the current authorities, who would become the opposition, and so on forever.
"Of course we have an interest in the position of the Russian Federation in this region of the world: it is nearby. But we are most of all interested not in our own interests, which are actually not so great; there are practically none. Do we have some kind of special economic relations? No. Has Mr. Assad been constantly in Moscow during his Presidency? Indeed, he has been in Paris and other European capitals more often than here. We advocate finding a solution to the problem which would spare the region and the country from disintegration and endless civil war.
"That is our proposal and our position is: not that Assad and his regime remain in power at any cost, but that people first reach agreement among themselves on how they are going to live, and how their security and participation in government is to be assured, and then begin to change the existing order of things in accordance with those agreements. Rather than the reverse, which would be first to drive out and destroy everything, and then try to negotiate. I think that agreements based on a military victory are out of place in this case, and cannot be effective. And what happens there depends above all on the Syrian people themselves."