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Report: U.S. offering Russia incentives for a post-Assad Syria

Special to WorldTribune.com

TEL AVIV — The United States has been negotiating an end to the
Syrian civil war that could enable Russia to remain in that Arab League
state, a report said.

The Institute for National Security Studies asserted that Moscow and
Washington were engaged in intensive contacts to end the Syrian revolt.

Russian Navy exercise near the Syrian coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Russian Navy recently held a major exercise near the Syrian coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

In a report by researcher Zvi Magen, the Israeli institute said the
administration of President Barack Obama appeared to be offering the Kremlin
a series of incentives to end the regime of President Bashar Assad.

“It seems as if the subject has matured to the point that outside
actors, first and foremost Russia and the United States, are willing to
combine their efforts to forge a way out of the imbroglio,” the report,
titled “Are the United States and Russia Reaching Understandings about
Syria?” said.

“If this occurs, and the situation does not get out of hand,
this would be a considerable achievement for Russia, which has succeeded in taking advantage of the Syrian crisis while playing a complex game in the region.”

Dated March 7, the report said the Russian-U.S. talks took place amid a
stalemate in the rebel campaign against Assad. Magen, regarded as a
specialist on Russia, said the Kremlin could complete the negotiations with a U.S. commitment for Moscow’s continued presence in Syria.

“Russian success could be crowned with an arrangement whereby it remains
in the region even after the change of regime in Syria, as well as payment
in the global arena — on the issue of ballistic missile defense or other
issues,” the report said.

Despite the negotiations, Russia has escalated military operations
around Syria. The report cited a major Russian Navy exercise near the Syrian
coast of the Mediterranean Sea, said to be part of the Kremlin’s policy of
helping non-Sunni minorities in the Middle East.

“Russia’s policy in the region implemented over the past 18 months aims
to exploit the Syrian crisis to promote its regional goals, namely, to
neutralize the effort by the Sunni-Western axis to push Russia out of the
Middle East, and its global goals, to transform the Syrian crisis into a
lever of pressure on the United States to promote issues critical to
Russia,” the report said.

The report said the Kremlin has no longer ruled out the departure of
Assad and establishment of a new government in Damascus. But any Russian
cooperation with Washington, Magen said, would depend on U.S. concessions on
a range of issues, including the suspension of a NATO missile defense
presence in eastern Europe.

“Of course if a settlement on Syria is not found in the current round of
contacts, the Russian message about going all the way, including
preparations for the dismantling of the state, is valid,” the report said.

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