Nine of ten participants of the referendum in Syria have upheld the draft of the new constitution. According to the Syrian public television, about 8.5 million people (57.4% of Syrians entitled to vote) took part in the referendum. The new constitution in particular abolishes a one-party system, guarantees the rights and freedoms of Syrian people and defines Syria as a “democratic state.”

Russia welcomes the end of a one-party system in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said adding that the referendum was a step towards democratization. He also stressed that it is the Syrian people who should take decision on further reforms.

Washington remains biased with regard to the referendum in Syria. Even before the referendum results were announced, US State Secretary Hillary Clinton had called the poll a “cynical ploy” of Bashar Assad. But if Syrians had not upheld the referendum the US statements would have been radically different. Clinton stressed that the US goal remains the same - to remove Bashar Assad from power. This statement reflects the essence of Washington’s approach to the referendum, Vladimir Sotnikov, an analyst of the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations, says:

"Some of our Western partners are dissatisfied with the current regime in Syria. That concerns also our partners from Arab countries. Before the referendum the statements they made and the steps they took proved such an attitude. There have been statements that Russia could provide a political asylum to Bashar Assad and his family. The intentions to change the regime in the country are clear. Any Bashar Assad’s step towards democracy is either denied or hushed up".

Western and Arab opponents of official Damascus expect the opposition to play the key role in the overthrow of Bashar Assad. Even Hillary Clinton had to admit that the US was not ready to provide military assistance to the Syrian oppositional troops because it did not know to whom it should provide it. Washington sees no one it can count on in planning military operation in Syria.

Meanwhile a group of more than 20 activists of the opposition have split from the Syrian National Council. It was this council, “the Friends of Syria,” which at the meeting in Tunisia was recognized as the only legitimate power. There had been no unity in the ranks of the Syrian opposition from the very start of the standoff in the country. The Syrian National Council, which leadership includes mainly the oppositional activists residing abroad, was regarded as the most united group which was fighting against Damascus. Now there has been the first serious split in its ranks.

On the day of announcement of the results of the referendum Moscow gave a new political signal to Damascus and the opposition. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov voiced Moscow’s intention to bring the parties of the conflict to the negotiating table. To do this it is necessary first of all to stop violence in Syria whoever it comes from.

Source: The Voice of Russia