I was responding to Chomsky’s comments in a Democracy Now interview from yesterday:
In 2012, there was an initiative from the Russians, which was not pursued, so we don’t know how serious it was, but it was a proposal to—for a negotiated settlement, in which Assad would be phased out, not immediately. You know, you can’t tell them, “We’re going to murder you. Please negotiate.” That’s not going to work. But some system in which, in the course of negotiations, he would be removed, and some kind of settlement would be made. The West would not accept it, not just the United States. France, England, the United States simply refused to even consider it. At the time, they believed they could overthrow Assad, so they didn’t want to do this, so the war went on. Could it have worked? You never know for sure.
Noam, I understand that you are busy addressing many different topics but your knowledge of Syrian politics is superficial at best.
Yes, in 2015 the Guardian reported on the claim made by former president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari that when Vitaly Churkin proposed a deal in 2012 that would have resulted in Assad stepping down in exchange for peace, the USA, Britain and France said no.
I was not surprised to see the Islamophobic left taking this at face value 2 years ago.
Writing for CounterPunch, Peter Lee considered this “an instance of neoliberal ass-covering, as if the Western allies were just waiting for Assad ‘to fall’” while Information Clearing House, a reliably pro-Assad website, reposted the Guardian article with the obvious intention of showing how Putin stood for peace and the West for war. Then there is David Swanson of Lets Try Democracy who concludes: “peace has been carefully avoided at every turn.” (http://davidswanson.org/node/4914)
The only problem is that Churkin was not the ultimate authority on such matters. Much closer to Putin and certainly speaking for him, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated just four months later: “We will not support and cannot support any interference from outside or any imposition of recipes. This also concerns the fate of Bashar al-Assad.”
Afraid I don’t see your point. I quoted the proposal accurately, made clear that it was not an official proposal, and pointed out correctly that the West refused to explore it, expecting Assad to fall.
I see nothing here that suggests any modification in that comment.
I followed up:
Yes, you don’t see my point.
The 2012 proposal had zero significance. Even the Kremlin dismissed it as bogus:
The Kremlin denied a claim by a senior negotiator Wednesday that Russia had offered in 2012 to make Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down in an “elegant way”, saying it never called for regime change.
“I can only once more repeat that Russia is not involved in changing regimes. Suggesting that someone step aside – elegantly or not – is something Russia has never done,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists, quoted by TASS state news agency.
I haven’t heard back from him.