Diplomats Argue Over Ongoing Syrian Conflict

Yahoo Contributor Network

As the Associated Press reports that Russia is evacuating its citizens from Syria, a report Russia is denying, other countries are being more open about their their thoughts regarding the Syrian uprising and the likelihood of President Bashar al-Assad being overthrown.

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was reported by Reuters as saying that a lack of serious positive signs for the rebels indicates a possible stalemate, while Turkey was reported by the AAP to be calling for the United Nations Security Council to deal with what it called war crimes. Russia, for its part, said that the Syrian opposition was preventing peace efforts from going forward.

Following is a closer look at the diplomatic and humanitarian situation in Syria.

* 77 Russian citizens were reported to have fled Syria on Wednesday via two flights. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that there are around 1,000 Russian citizens living in Syria and that there are no plans for a mass evacuation, though he acknowledged for the first time that families of Russian diplomats had long ago left the country.

* France has repeatedly claimed that Assad's fall would come soon, but admitted as Fabius was quoted by Reuters as saying, that "the solution that we had hoped for, and by that I mean the fall of Bashar and the arrival of the (opposition) coalition to power, has not happened."

* Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu called for no-fly zones or other means to protect civilians from the continuing civil war, adding that "silence is killing Syrian people," according to AAP.

* Syria's ally Russia countered by arguing that the country had tried to broker peace many times. Lavrov said, as AAP noted, that "our priority is not reaching a geo-political aim -- like the toppling of al-Assad regime -- but a stabilisation of the situation and a rapid end to the bloodshed to save Syrian lives."

* Russia and China have blocked any effort by Western and Arab powers to condemn Assad.

* The United Nations warned that cereal, fruit, and vegetable production in Syria was halved in some areas, with massive infrastructural damage, dropping as far as 60 percent for vegetable production in Homs and 40 percent in olive oil production in Dera'a, according to the U.N. News Center .

* 80 percent of Syrians living in rural areas rely on agriculture for their income. There are 10 million rural Syrians, according to the U.N.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.

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