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US needs to work with Russia to end Syria fighting — Kissinger

Former Secretary of State says US troops should not intervene

Image Credit: Reuters
Henry Kissinger
Gulf News

US President Barack Obama needs to work with Russia to find common ground on how to find the basis of a negotiated solution to end the fighting in Syria, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told Gulf News in a brief interview at Davos.

Given Russia’s interests with the Bashar Al Assad government, and American support for the opposition, it will be important for the two states to find a way to avoid the previous stalemate in the United Nations Security Council, Kissinger said.

Previous discussions on what such a route might include have concentrated on how to form a transitional authority and if that authority should include anyone from the current regime. Al Assad and Russia say it should, but the opposition rejects that idea totally. This is where Washington and Moscow need to find common ground.

Kissinger spoke out strongly against the US sending troops to Syria. “I urge that the administration not intervene militarily. If it does, it will find itself in the middle of a bitter ethnic conflict”.

Humanitarian tragedy

But Kissinger was well aware that some kind of action will have to happen. Along with many others in Davos this week, he knew the world cannot ignore the huge unfolding humanitarian tragedy with more than 60,000 people killed and four million displaced. “Even if outside forces do not intervene militarily, the administration will be caught up in the humanitarian tragedy that has started”.

Earlier Kissinger spoke from the stage and pointed out how the nature of the conflict may have started as a fight for democracy against dictatorship, but has been transformed into a sectarian conflict. This makes finding a solution more difficult as the possible outcomes are either Al Assad staying in office backed by his Alawite sect, or a Sunni victory, or an emergence of a loose federation of various ethnic groups

He put finding a way forward in Syria along with two other priorities in the Middle East for the second Obama administration which were to take action to support the Two State Solution for the conflict between Palestine and Israel; and on Iran to be more flexible and active in finding a solution.

“The administration needs to define the red line of what is unacceptable with Iran. It needs to be clear about what it thinks about Iranian nuclear capability, to be clear if it is talking about military or civil capability, and then who should deal with it,” said Kissinger.