Russia reassessing support for Assad, considers backing his deputy

Russia reassessing support for Assad, considers backing his deputy
2 min read
11 August, 2015
Supported by Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syrian opposition, Russia is considering an alternative to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa.
Bogdanov said Syrian opposition delegations would arrive in Moscow in the next few days [Getty/Anadolu]

Russia is leaning towards backing the Syrian Vice-President, Farouk al-Sharaa, to take over as Syria's transitional leader, replacing current president Bashar al-Assad, a source in the Syrian National Coalition told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"Moscow will be the key player regarding Syria during the coming period", the source said.

"Russia told the US, Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia that it was not holding on to Assad, and that it was looking for a substitute who would keep its interests, especially the Russian military bases on the Syrian Coast."

"Russia has realised the need to find a substitute for Assad before the Syrian regime collapses suddenly."

According to the source, the Doha meeting included reaching an understanding on several issues, the outcomes of which will be reflected in the coming few days, especially regarding the creation of a buffer zone free from the Islamic State group [IS] and the Nusra Front in northern Syria.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov said that some Syrian opposition delegations would arrive in Moscow in the next few days. He added that each delegation would speak for itself.

"Among the delegates expected to arrive in Moscow is the President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, Khaled Khoja", said Bogdanov. "Qadri Jamil, the head of the Popular Front for Change and Liberation, will also attend the meetings."

"Assad is part of the problem in Syria, not the solution"
- Adel al-Jubair

On Monday, informed sources said that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would arrive in Damascus in the next few days to maintain diplomatic relations in efforts to achieve progress in Syria's political process, the next stop of which may be the conference that Moscow intends to host in September.

Zarif is currently visiting the Lebanese capital, Beirut, to stress that Tehran's stance towards Syria and Hezbollah has not changed, according to diplomatic sources.

In addition, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubair has met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday in Moscow to discuss the Syrian conflict and the Islamic State group.

"The crisis in Syria must be solved politically and Saudi Arabia's stance towards the conflict has not changed," said Jubair in a press conference following bilateral talks.

"There is no place for Bashar al-Assad in Syria's future and his policies have helped give rise to the Islamic State group," he added.

"Assad is part of the problem in Syria, not the solution," Jubair said.

The Russian Foreign Minister added that the "preliminary details" to the plan to fight IS have started to emerge.


This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.