For months Russia has declared the need for dialogue between the opposition and the regime, while keeping some ambiguity if it envisages or tolerates a post-Bashar al-Assad Syria. There was talk of a national unity government headed by Qadri Jamil (a known figure from the Syrian left whose views feature regularly in the regime tolerated newspaper Kassioun) but with Bashar al-Assad remaining in power. Qadri Jamil recently visited Russia and met with Russian officials, indicating a high-level support of his candidacy, as a possible middle-ground figure between the regime and opposition. Though this supposed support was simultaneously part of a series of reforms that would include, at first, parliamentary elections, to be followed by a national unity government headed by a figure such as Qadri Jamil. Such a government could then open a pathway to a Russian sponsored national dialogue and a negotiated solution.
Qadri Jamil himself, while critical of the regime, has distanced himself from any abrupt changes or the overthrow of the regime, committed instead to a gradual change through reforms. While against calls to topple the regime, he has criticised the recent parliamentary elections which he declared, for example, as forged and re-affirming the power and influence of a certain clique of wealthy businessmen. His stance has always been a support of what he terms as paths to reform that starts with a national dialogue but also coupled with serious measures, such as the release of political prisoners. Yet there exists, according to Qadri Jamil, a clique within the regime that seeks to disrupt any movement in the path of substantive reform.
“Any outcome of the political reform suitable for the people of Syria will be absolutely suitable for Russia. We are nobody’s advocates in that process,” Ryabkov was quoted by Itar-tass news agency as saying, upon his return from the G8 summit held May 18-19 in the United States.
“If the Damascus administration is transformed without bloodshed, foreign interference, arms supplies, incitement to the use of force and so on and so forth, an alternative will satisfy us irrespective of the outcome,” he said.
Nevertheless, whatever solution emerges there remains the caveat that this end is reached with no military intervention or armed struggle. In other words, Russia seeks a solution that does not result from any armed faction (external or internal) imposing an agenda on Syria (something of concern, with an ongoing proxy-war between different power blocs). It is not coincidental that Sergei Ryabkov’s statement coincided with the Obama regime expressing support for a ‘Yemen solution’ for Syria. The ‘Yemen solution’ offers a mid-point alignment between both the US and Russia – a negotiated solution between different parties, that sees an end to Bashar al-Assad’s rule but with no military intervention.