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August 28th, 2013
06:25 AM ET

U.S., Russia Trade Barbs Over Syria

A U.S. response to Syria is imminent after clear word from the Obama Administration insisting the Assad regime is to blame for a deadly chemical weapons attack near Damsacus, which rebels say left some 1300 people dead.

Plans are apparently in the works for a U.S. response, but the White House says nothing has yet been decided.

CNN has learned the National Security Council met Tuesday night at the White House, to discuss Syria. The president did not take part.

Meanwhile, Russia is warning the U.S. against an attack.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted Tuesday: "The West handles the Islamic world the way a monkey handles a grenade."

“There's no love affair between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, but their countries have been in a tight embrace since Soviet times,” reports CNN’s Jill Dougherty.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem has said, “The Russian-Syrian relationship is a historical relationship that goes back decades back and is still continuing in the same momentum till this day.”

From military ties to those of blood and religion, the Russians and Syrians have a clear vested interest in one other.

“Syria has been buying its military weapons from Russia since Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad, ruled the country and Moscow is still fulfilling some of those Soviet-era contracts,” Dougherty reports.

Also, Russia's naval facility in Syria's port of Tartus is Moscow's only remaining Mediterranean repair spot for its ships.

According to Russian media, at least 25,000 Russian women are married to Syrian men.

And the largest Christian denomination in both Syria and Russia is the Orthodox Church. Moscow fears that if Islamist rebels win, they will be decimated.

“But the deepest reason the Kremlin sticks with Assad is Russia's anger over any unilateral military action or regime change by the West,” Dougherty explains.

“It started with NATO's 1999 air campaign against Russia's ally, Serbia.”

Matters worsened when the west launched airstrikes against Libya's Muammar Gadhafi, in 2011.

Andrew Kuchins of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says, “Mr. Putin basically came to the conclusion that never again, this will never happen again. That they will stick by Mr. Assad and Syria. Not because they particularly like Mr. Assad but because they see him as the legitimate president, or the legitimate leader of Syria.”

Dougherty says, “Russia now claims there's little difference between President Obama and President George W. Bush. And they predict that if Assad falls what comes after him could be even worse.”

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