The American Special Envoy to Syria and the Special Envoy for the International Coalition to Combat ISIS James Jeffrey held a press conference via phone yesterday evening for the official spokesman of the American State Department, Morgan Ortagos, and the assistant secretary of the European and Eurasian Affairs Office Christopher Robinson, and the American envoy to Syria and the International Coalition against ISIS.
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagos attacked Russia during the conference, describing its actions in the Middle East as malicious, especially in Syria and Libya, and said, "Russia is helping al- Assad regime to consolidate its stay in power, and refuses to engage in serious dialogues with the" Syrian opposition ", and more recently Russia has taken advantage of instability in Libya to further its military, economic and geopolitical interests in that country and throughout North America.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the European and Eurasian Affairs Office, Christopher Robinson, in his turn said that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that Russia has strengthened its unconstructive behavior in the Middle East since 2015, when Russia expanded its measures in Syria to support al-Assad regime.
Robinson emphasized that recently, Libya has become the next place for Russia's malicious efforts to exploit regional conflicts to achieve narrow political and economic gains, "while Russia often publicly claims to support a political solution, as is the case in Syria or Libya, at the same time it is participating in activities undermining the political peace process and expanding conflict. "
For his part, the American envoy to Syria and the International Coalition against ISIS James Jeffrey talked about the background of the Russian presence in Syria, and said, "Most of you are following up daily things well. First of all, Russia came in 2015 to save al-Assad regime, which he was in the last breath." And he faces the uprising of the Syrian people against him.
Jeffrey pointed out that Russia had succeeded very quickly in its initial goal of stabilizing the situation, and at the end of 2015, it approved UN Resolution 2,254 related to resolving the Syrian conflict that calls for a political compromise solution under the auspices of the United Nations, a new constitution, and elections under the supervision of UN.
In the meantime, and in the next two years, Russia contributed with Iran to restore al-Assad regime to a large part of the Syrian territory from the opposition, so its ambitions seemed to grow, but Russia faced many complications, especially Iran sending militias to Syria to threaten Israel, What led the latter to act to protect its national security, which caused embarrassment for Russia, and the matter that complicated the Russians ’mission is the involvement of countries such as Washington, Turkey and Israel, and for various reasons in Syria.
"But shortly after that, Russia seemed committed to a military solution, and this led to the defeat of the Syrian forces in Idlib. We have seen some indications in the Russian media and in some Russian actions to be more flexible in the Constitutional Committee, because they will not obtain a military victory at a time." Soon in Syria, especially since the Syrian economy is in a state of free fall and diplomatic isolation continues. "
Regarding Iran's withdrawal from Syria, Jeffrey said, "We see some Iranian moves in Syria, and we see them withdrawing from some areas that the Israelis have hit. We have also seen the withdrawal of Iranian-backed militias, some from Hezbollah, and some from other countries, and we haven't seen any change in Iran's strategy in Syria is to create a second launch pad for long-range weapons against Israel, as we have not seen any change in the strategy regarding the Shiite Crescent, through which it provided lethal, modern and accurate missiles threatening Israel.
The Russian- al-Assad dispute
Jeffrey saw the Russians as dissatisfied with al-Assad and said, "It is a relatively new matter, and it is customary for the Russians to show tactical flexibility with us regarding a Syrian solution. We gave up 80%, and the Russians gave up 20%, which is not acceptable to us, or to many countries that Working with us.
Jeffrey explained that their goal was not to get Russia out of Syria (which has been in the country for 30 years) Russia has a long-term relationship with Syria, we do not think it was healthy for the region and Russia as well, but this is not our policy, our policy now is to return the situation to 2011, i.e. Syria before the conflict started, and this will eventually lead to the departure of all other military forces that entered, and what we mean are the Iranians and the Iranian-led militias.
Regarding the differences in al-Assad domestic house, James Jeffrey said, "The dispute between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his cousin Rami Makhlouf is important, since the latter controls the parallel Syrian economy and even the formal economy, Makhlouf is very close to al-Assad, and a major player in the Alawite sect that rules in Syria fifty years ago. "
And Jeffrey explained that this dispute can be explained in two ways: the first is the straw that broke the camel's back, and the second thing is that this dispute is an additional indication, such as the fall of the Syrian currency and the difficulties the government faces to enter oil shipments into Syria, as well as the difficulties in securing bread and other items for shops, as The regime is under great pressure, and perhaps that is why the Russians are more interested in talking to us again about the possibility of a settlement. "
On Russian criticism leveled at al-Assad, Jeffrey said, "We are not sure that Russian public criticism and by people close to Russian President Putin of al-Assad reflects sending signals to us or to al-Assad himself, or to help Russia sell Syria to some countries such as Latin American countries, Europe and the Middle East, to give Syria has diplomatic recognition and international acceptance to secure tens of billions of dollars for reconstruction, and we are still seeking to find out the background to this criticism.
Regarding the recent ISIS attacks on Syria, Iraq, Jeffrey said that he had not witnessed intense activity from ISIS except for the latter's attacks in Iraq and the Syrian Badia, where ISIS attacks on the Syrian regime due to the lack of efficiency of the Syrian army in confronting ISIS, as well as the regime and Russians' preoccupation in Idlib.