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Abdel Bari Atwan: Assad’s departure on the dialogue table PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Abdel Bari Atwan   
Saturday, 25 August 2012 13:08

22 August 2012

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil surprised observers when he declared yesterday that his government was willing to discuss Assad’s resignation within a frame of negotiations with the opposition.

It was a surprise because this is the first time a key Syrian official has mentioned “resignation” when it comes to the future of the Syrian president.

Lending major significance to Jamil’s statement is that fact that he gave it in a Moscow press conference, talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, whom many believe to be in charge of the Syrian profile in the Russian government.

The questions strongly imposed within these surprising statements is whether the Syrian authorities are truly serious in such an unprecedented proposition, or if it is a manoeuvre to win more time and appear flexible to international public opinion.

What makes us believe that the first proposition is more likely, i.e. that the Syrian regime is serious in discussing all issues including those formerly taboo like the president’s departure, are a number of issues summarised in the following points.

First: the hastening declaration by the opposition Syrian National Council head Abdelbasset Sayda, following a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Champs Elysees, of vigorous efforts to form a transitional government in Syria.

Such a declaration would not be issued except based on information from the French side that a serious move to reach a political solution in Syria has emerged.

Second: the Syrian regime has started to realise that security solutions are no longer viable for a decisive solution to the situation on the ground. At the same time, the opposition started realising that it is unable to topple the regime using military methods. In view of this stagnation, convictions have been forming with the support of regional and international parties on the necessity of starting dialogue between the two sides of the Syrian equation.

Third: the increasing power of Islamist, jihadist and extremist groups inside Syria is raising the concern of Syrian opposition and Western powers, particularly the US.

Fourth: US President Barack Obama’s surprising statements where he threatened a military intervention in Syria in case the Syrian regime used chemical weapons. Such threats would not be groundless although some see it as part of his election campaign.

Fifth: hastening the appointment of Lakhdar Brahimi as UN and Arab League envoy to succeed Kofi Annan, and his row-triggering statements where he said that it was too early to say that Assad must leave office.

From all of the above, we can reach the conclusion that conditions have never been riper to search for a political way out of the Syrian crisis that ends the bloodshed in the country with all the human and structural destruction it has left behind.

Signals coming from Syrian regime circles and transmitted by some Russian diplomats specifically imply that President Assad wishes to complete his current term in office, which ends in 2014, leading to a dignified withdrawal from authority. Have the Russians devised an initiative that fulfils the demand to be proposed on the dialogue table between the government and opposition?

It is hoped that the two sides, the authority and opposition, as well as regional and international countries supporting them, have concluded that there is no substitute for dialogue and transitional phrasing satisfactory to all sides to salvage Syria from destruction and division on a sectarian and racial basis.

Syria the state is falling apart and diminishing, and the Syrian people have so far paid a toll of more than 25,000 of their dear children. There must be a lifeline to decrease the losses, or rather the disasters, that could be prevented. This is the responsibility of the regime before the opposition.



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