Syrian Violence: US and Russia at Odds

News Brief – April 17, 2012

While the U.S. media reported on Tuesday that mounting violence in Syria was being condemned as “unacceptable” by the U.S. State Department, the corporate media largely overlooked Russian accusations that “external forces” were orchestrating the unrest.
On Tuesday State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that a ceasefire – effective from last Thursday – was eroding even though the opposition was upholding its side of the peace deal.
“This erosion is unacceptable,” Toner said when asked about the peace plan brokered by former UN chief Kofi Annan.
“The onus is on his regime. They need to live up to their side of the bargain,” he said, referring to President Assad.
However, not everyone was quite so ready to blame the regime for the failing ceasefire.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pointed the finger at the opposition forces, noting that 11 of the 35 killed on Monday were Syrian soldiers.
Without specifically identifying them, Lavrov accused “outside forces” of orchestrating the violence.
“There are countries, there are external forces, that are not interested in the success of the current security council efforts, that are trying to replace the security council with informal formats such as the Friends of Syria group,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by Russian media.
“The international community should think about the interests of the Syrian people, not their own opportunistic goals,” he urged. “There are those who want Kofi Annan’s plan to fail. Those who … from the beginning foretold the failure of Annan’s plan are doing a lot to see to it that this prophecy comes true.”
Earlier on Monday the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, had warned that the Annan plan had only a 3% chance of success. The wealthy Gulf state along with Saudi Arabia has repeatedly called for the arming of Syrian rebels.
It’s feared that if implemented the proposal to arm the rebels would only inflame matters. 
Together with the West some Gulf states have been accused of actively working toward “regime change” in Syria.
Sources in Saudi Arabia claim the authorities have turned a blind eye to fund raising by Syrian businessmen there for arms purchases, which are then being smuggled back to opposition activists in Syria.
Qatar, which led support for the Libyan rebels, reportedly has plans to supply the Syrian opposition with millions of dollars worth of sophisticated weapons.
“This is a major programme. They will not do things by halves,” said a Doha-based source who had been briefed briefed on the plans. “The thinking is: If you wait another six months, this will slide into a full-on civil war that will be impossible to contain.” 

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