G-7 ministers seek unity in bid to press Russia over Assad

Introduction — April 10, 2017

Western efforts to persuade Putin to abandon Syrian President Assad will almost certainly fail. That can be said with some degree of confidence. For despite the threat of more sanctions Putin is unlikely to desert his Syrian ally for a number of reasons:
·  Putin knows that Syria didn’t launch a chemical weapons attack at Khan Sheikhoun. Despite allegations of “War Crimes” and the threat of sanctions the West has still not produced any hard evidence of Syrian involvement in the alleged chemical weapons attack.
·  Nearly a week has passed since the attack and all we’ve heard are allegations and accusations without any tangible proof being produced. All of which calls to mind earlier claims about Saddam’s WMD.
·  Meanwhile questions are being raised about the doctor who treated victims of the alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack. Turns out Shajul Islam, who treated those allegedly poisoned by Sarin and was a key witness to claims about the attack, had been tried for terror offences in 2012.
According to the Daily Mail:
·  The University of London graduate was arrested and charged with kidnapping two journalists – Mr Cantlie and Dutch reporter Jeroen Oerlemans – in 2012 but was released after the trial collapsed when neither of the prosecution’s witnesses were able to give evidence.
One wonders whether Western intelligence had been instrumental in getting the charges against Shajul Islam dropped? So as to recruit him as a double agent and thereby hold him to account with the threat of renewed terror charges should he step out of lie?
Faced with allegations based on such questionable grounds Putin is highly unlikely to give in to western demands.
However, that doesn’t exclude the possibility that he might be amenable to some sort of partitioning of Syria. Because if that does transpire it will still allow Russia to retain a foothold in the Middle East and crucial naval facilities in the Mediterranean port of Tartus. Ed.

G-7 ministers seek unity in bid to press Russia over Assad

Associated Press — April 10, 2017

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations met Monday to try to forge a common response to the deadly chemical attack in Syria, with new sanctions against Russian backers of President Bashar Assad one of the options on the table.

G-7 diplomats sitting down for talks in the centuries-old Ducal Palace in Lucca, Italy, hope to use outrage over the attack and wide international support for the United States’ retaliatory missile strikes to push Russia to abandon Assad and join a new peace effort for Syria.

Members of the group also hope to gain a sense from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of President Donald Trump’s next steps and foreign-policy goals

Speaking after meeting with Tillerson, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said ministers “will be discussing the possibility of further sanctions, certainly, on some of the Syrian military figures and indeed on some of the Russian military figures.”

He said Russia had a choice: to continue backing the “toxic” Assad regime, “or to work with the rest of the world to find a solution for Syria, a political solution.”

Last week’s nerve gas attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed more than 80 people, stirred Trump – who was previously cool to the idea of U.S. intervention – to strike for the first time at Assad’s forces. U.S. warships fired 59 cruise missiles at the Syrian air base from which the U.S. believes the attack was launched.

The U.S. strikes drew support from other Western leaders who have been uncertain what to make of Trump’s foreign policy. Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said Sunday that Europe’s broad support for the U.S. military strikes had contributed to a “renewed harmony” between the United States and its partners.

In a gesture weighted with symbolism, Tillerson visited the site of a World War II-era Nazi massacre in central Italy on Monday. He said the United States was rededicating itself to hold to account “any and all” who commit crimes against innocent people.

Continues …

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