Russia may be softening its support for Bashar Assad, and it could be the result of unexpected Arab pressure, a well-informed Congressional source told me.
The Gulf Cooperation Council of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, recently told Lavrov he was not welcome in any of their countries until Russia gets on board with their position toward Syria, the official said, and tell Assad to leave.
The New York Times reported Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov for the first time harshly criticized the Syrian president and his violent repression of the year-old uprising, although he still wasn't ready to join the Western nations in calling for Assad's resignation. However, should the Syrian dictator step down, "no one is inviting him to Moscow," Lavrov said.
It was the toughest language yet used by a Russian official and it may grow out of anger toward Moscow by Arab states who have been increasing the pressure on Assad to quit. Some are urging the United States and others to send arms to the opposition; it is unclear whether they are providing weapons themselves.