11, 2016 "Information
MUNICH, Germany: Moscow warned Thursday that any
move by Gulf nations to send in troops to
support the rebels in Syria would risk a “new
world war.” It also said that it had made a
“quite specific” cease-fire proposal for Syria
as foreign ministers gathered in Munich, hoping
to revive a floundering peace process amid
warnings of a “new world war.”
a Saudi source said a new Saudi-led coalition to
fight “terrorism” in Islamic countries will
gather in the kingdom next month for its first
publicly announced meeting.
development came days after the kingdom, which
backs some of the rebels that Moscow is helping
to defeat, has floated the idea of sending
ground troops to help the U.S. effort against
was criticized by Russian premier Dmitry
Medvedev, who said, “The Americans and our
[Arab] partners must think hard about this: Do
they want a permanent war?” he told Germany’s
made propositions for a cease-fire that are
quite specific,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey
Lavrov said as he sat down for talks with U.S.
counterpart John Kerry.
has refused to confirm reports that its
cease-fire would take effect only on March 1,
giving another three weeks to an offensive which
the U.N. says could place 300,000 people under
siege. Observers say the shelling on Aleppo have
killed 500 people since they began on Feb. 1.
meeting in the German city of Munich was meant
to allow powers to coordinate support for
ongoing talks, but instead has turned into a
desperate bid to resurrect them.
Western diplomat told Reuters that U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry wanted an
immediate cease-fire in Syria – “All or
nothing.” Moscow, however, had proposed a truce
that would begin only from the start of next
month, giving its Damascus allies 18 more days
to recapture Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city.
Western powers were hopeful wording could be
agreed that at the very least would allow more
access for aid to besieged areas.
we need something of a breakthrough,” said
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
“Today, we will try what has not been achieved
so far especially, to get better supplies to
people locked in Syria and link this to first
steps in a significant reduction of violence.”
senior Western diplomat summed up the
pessimistic outlook: “This meeting risks being
endless and I fear the results will be extremely
who met Kerry ahead of the talks, said Moscow
had submitted proposals for a cease-fire and was
awaiting a response from other powers. But
Western officials do not expect Moscow to accept
the immediate halt to bombing Washington seeks.
said he expected a “serious conversation.”
“Obviously, at some point in time, we want to
make progress on the issues of humanitarian
access and cease-fire,” Kerry said.
is widely viewed as unlikely to halt support for
the government advance until Damascus achieves
its two main objectives: recapturing Aleppo and
sealing the Turkish border, for years the
lifeline for rebel-held areas.
would amount to the most decisive victory of the
war so far, and probably put an end to rebel
hopes of removing Assad by force, their goal
throughout five years of fighting that has
killed 250,000 people and driven 11 million from
goal is to totally liberate Aleppo and then to
seal the northern border with Turkey,” said Ivan
Konovalov, director of the Center for Strategic
Trend Studies in Moscow, explaining the Russian
government thinking. “The offensive should not
be stopped – that would be tantamount to
Washington is leading its own air campaign
against Daesh militants, but has resisted calls
to intervene in the main battlefields of Syria’s
civil war in the west of the country, where the
government is mostly fighting against other
has left the field to the Russians, who support
Assad against an array of rebel groups backed by
Turkey, Arab states and the West.
Western diplomat said that details of how the
grouping of the new Saudi-led coalition would
work remained unclear and “they don’t have the
infrastructure” yet to run such a coalition.
is official now, that they will meet end of
March,” the Saudi source said, without giving a
source added that the coalition now has 35
members, up from the 34 announced initially.
countries named previously by the Saudis range
from the tiny African nation of the Comoros to
major regional powers like Turkey.
Arabia said the alliance would share
intelligence, combat violent ideology and deploy
troops if necessary.
kingdom is a member of the U.S.-led coalition
that has been bombing Daesh in eastern Syria and
northern Iraq for more than 18 months.
of this article appeared in the print edition of
The Daily Star on February 12, 2016, on page 1.
See also -
What Medvedev never said:
Reuters misquotes Russian PM on ‘new world war’:
The report referred to a German translation of
his words, which is incorrect and implies that
Russia is warning that a full-scale war between
leading world powers may be ignited from the