Prominent Syrian parliamentarian sends public message from Assad to Putin

MOSCOW / DAMASCUS — Russian-Syrian relations appear to have deteriorated in recent weeks with Russia pressuring Syria to seize the fortune of President Bashar al-Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf, to repay the country’s debt and Moscow’s attempts to force the Syrian regime into a political deal to end the near decades long war. Now, a prominent Syrian Member of Parliament has taken things a step further. Recent critical media reports coming from Russia accused Assad’s regime of corruption and an inability to control the situation in Syria. The criticism also pointed to a deterioration in the popularity of the Syrian president  that he has become a potential burden to Russia.

The criticism coming out of Russia has prompted Syrian MP Khaled Abboud to write an angry statement in which he attacked Russia and the Russian President Vladimir Putin with accusations of a lack of political awareness. His article, entitled “What If Assad Gets Mad at Putin?”, contained paragraphs assuring in strong words that Assad’s main allies are Iran and Hezbollah and not Russia.

“If Assad gets angry, he can pull the rug out from under Putin, even in the Kremlin,” MP Abboud wrote. “Assad can break Putin’s glory and his achievements.”

He further warned that Syria may drown Putin in a fire in the mountains of Latakia, in the plains of Horan or the Syrian desert, portraying Russia as an occupying force, rather than an ally. MP Abboud argued that Russia’s intervention in Syria played no part in saving the Syrian regime or its president. Instead, it fulfilled a common Syrian-Russian interest in confronting the United States, as Moscow also has formally emphasized repeatedly.

Russian decision-makers have so far only reacted by saying that such statements are the result of ignorance and a lack of political responsibility at a dangerous stage in Syria.

The statement by MP Abboud can almost certainly be interpreted as a signal to Moscow that Assad is dissatisfied with the recent media reports and criticism coming out of Russia.