Sunday, September 18, 2011

Shaaban in Moscow - Why?

I find myself wondering why Bouthaina Shaaban was in Moscow recently. She is a "political and media adviser" to Bashar al Assad, so why send her, of all people, abroad? Walid al Mouallem is Syria's foreign minister, and it is strange that he isn't the one who went. A high level delegation is reported by al Jazeera to have arrived in Syria. Sending Shaaban to Moscow might be because she is trusted by Assad, and she might have been asked to convey a request or message. The Russians don't want foreign involvement (ie. the West) in Syria, so sending a high level delegation from Russia's parliament might be a way of opening channels with Syria's internal opposition through an external party. Behind the curtains, a Russian delegation could use any meetings with the internal opposition to act as a go-between, to find out where the sympathies of this opposition would lie, and also, perhaps, to warn the opposition. There might be an idea that the Russians are considered within the Syrian 'family' and that perhaps there is still hope that the whole affair can be wrapped up. I'm just speculating, but Shaaban's visit to Moscow has something behind it, and I imagine we will be finding out why in the days and months to come.

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