Russia is imposing itself this week as the diplomatic "capital" of the world, as if all of the proposed solutions to the Syrian crisis are dependent on Moscow and must go through it first.
Arab League-United Nations envoy Kofi Annan went to Moscow to find a way to make his stalled plan succeed. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is visiting Moscow, trying to persuade President Vladimir Putin to give up on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Earlier, a delegation from the Syrian opposition visited the city to seek an Assad-free transition process. In the Security Council, Moscow threatened to use its "veto" against any draft resolution that it did not propose or that authorizes the imposition of sanctions or the use of force against the Syrian regime.
Moscow had already shattered the hopes of a solution in Syria under the pretext of its suspicions of the West’s true intentions. They say that they were deceived once before in the case of Libya. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov settled the dispute over whether his country had changed position when he said that Assad "will not leave” and accused the West of "extortion." His position has been characterized by a remarkable sharpness, perhaps in an attempt to induce apprehension among Western and international envoys, including Erdogan, as they arrived in Moscow.
It goes without saying that Lavrov did not pay much attention to the announcement of the International Committee of the Red Cross that stated that Syria is witnessing a civil war. The fact that the battle has approached Damascus was not a key factor in his position, either.
From the very beginning, it has been clear that for Moscow, the Syrian crisis is not an issue of a "dictator killing his own people" or one of a people rising up against repression. Instead, Syria has become an essential arena in the new conflict between the East and the West.
Before it guarantees itself a prime position, not only in the new Middle East but in other delicate conflict areas, the Kremlin will not easily give up on one of its last strongholds in the region.
When Erdogan meets with Putin in Moscow today [July 18] to prepare for the meetings of the Russian-Turkish Supreme Council in September, Syria will be a key topic of discussion. The two men belong to the two rival camps.
From Ankara’s perspective, the Kremlin is supporting the Syrian regime to achieve its strategic interests. In contrast, Moscow questions the motives of the West and Turkey in Syria. It particularly dreads the Turkish "Sunni solidarity" with the Syrian opposition, which, according to Moscow, aims to enable the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power.