Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Keith Preston: To Russia, Assad is ‘bulwark against terrorism’

Press TV. Listen here.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shakes hands with US Secretary of State John Kerry after their press conference in Moscow on July 15, 2016. (AFP)

As US and Russian top diplomats speak of steps the two countries are taking to end the conflict in Syria, an analyst tells Press TV that a common ground between the two countries is “unlikely.”

Washington insists that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down before any peace process can yield results, but Russia opposes the idea, arguing that he is defending his country against terrorist groups.

“We still believe that Syria can’t have peace while [Syrian President Bashar]Assad is there. We have a difference with Russia on that,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

According to Keith Preston, the chief editor and director of, finding common ground on the situation in Syria is “unlikely” as the two powers have “fundamentally opposed goals” in the war-ravaged county.

“The Americans are primarily interested in eliminating independent regimes in the Middle East that are in the way of American hegemony,” he said, adding that they actually seek, “puppet regimes” that allow Washington to “exercise hegemony over the trade and natural resources in the region whether it is natural gas or petroleum.”

Moscow, on the other hand is implementing its “traditional foreign policy” it has maintained over centuries.

“For centuries, the traditional foreign policy has been to maintain sovereignty… over their sphere of interest and they certainly see central Asia and Eastern Europe as their primary sphere of influence,” he said. “The objective of the Russians is to maintain the government of President Assad, which they see as a bulwark” against terrorism.

“Certainly, the United States does not want terrorist groups like Daesh to expand to areas of the region that are allied with the United States; they don’t want to see Daesh become an actual threat to Israel or Saudi Arabia but they do see Daesh as a bulwark against other governments in the area that are opposed to American foreign policy objectives in the region,” he noted, adding the terrorists were being used as a “weapon” against Assad.

Russia has been bombing Daesh and al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front terrorist groups in Syria at the official request of the government in Damascus since September 30, 2015.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

A ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia went into effect in Syria on February 27, but it does not apply to the Daesh and al-Nusra Front terrorist groups in the Arab country.

Leave a Reply