“It was a mistake from the Western coalition in not highlighting the distinction between the so-called moderate rebels and… [Jabhat] al-Nusra,” Frattini, who has also served as European Commissioner for Justice, said in an interview at RT’s studios in Moscow on Sunday.
The former Italian FM expressed confidence that Al-Nusra should be a target of international strikes, just like Islamic State (IS/Daesh, formerly ISIS/ISIL). “I’m completely convinced that if this point is overcome, the solution [to the Syrian crisis] will be found,” he said. Frattini spoke out against creating a “no-fly zone” over Syria’s strategic city of Aleppo, which was proposed by France in a vetoed UN Security Council resolution earlier this week. “Let’s not talk simply about the ‘no-fly zone,’” Frattini said. “I know very well the story of the no-fly zone in Libya. But now a no-fly zone in an area Al-Nusra [controls], will be protecting an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group.”
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Despite claims to the contrary from Washington, “it is possible to separate Al-Nusra from moderate rebels because al-Nusra occupy some well-determined areas of eastern Aleppo” and modern military technologies “allow [us] to target particularly small areas where terrorists are without hitting innocent civilians,” Frattini said. According to Frattini, the Americans are pandering to its allies in the Middle East by refusing to separate Al-Nusra jihadists from the moderates. “It’s not mainly the US interest. It’s the interest of Gulf Sunni states that are behind Sunni jihadists… Saudi Arabia is supporting jihadists, providing weapons. And Saudi Arabia is historically an ally of the US,” he said. “Sunni states in the Gulf want to liberate Damascus from Syrian President Bashar Assad and all the Shia that are there, not to liberate eastern Aleppo from terrorists,” Frattini added.
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Meanwhile, there is Iran on the other side, which said that “protecting eastern Aleppo from terrorists is our national interest” and will never allow Assad to be removed, he said. “Let’s restore a contact group where all main players [are present] – first of all, Russia and the US, but also Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Without having these five players around the table” no peace can be achieved in Syria, Frattini said. The various sides must talk, no matter what their differences are, as “you can only make peace with your enemies, not friends,” he explained. The breakdown of the Russia-US peace deal in Syria in late September “shouldn’t be the end of cooperation,” the politician said. “It’s going to be against the interest of the US, us the Europeans, against the interest of stability in the whole region,” he added. Military and diplomatic cooperation between Russia and the US is the only way to succeed, which was proven by the successful destruction of Syrian chemical weapons back in 2014, Frattini said. “From [Obama’s] failed proposal to go to war [with the Syrian government] we go to the opposite proposal to cooperate with Assad to dismantle the chemical arsenal. Russia, the East, Europe agreed. And it was the only successful example of cooperation since the beginning of the crisis in Syria… This is the example from, which we have to learn,” he said. Recent harsh statements toward Moscow from Washington can be explained by the American presidential campaign, with “rhetoric becoming louder and louder and louder as the election approaches,” the ex-FM said. He urged the US not to downplay Moscow’s achievements in Syria, stressing that “Russia, which isn’t the best ally to Riyadh, has been a bit more committed.”
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“Since Russia decided to engage very strongly in Syria’s fight against the terrorists, things have changed in a good direction – Daesh has reduced its sphere of occupation, many cities and villages were liberated,” Frattini said.