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POLITICS > Annan to offer Assad ‘honorable exit’ way

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Offer may be ‘the last chance’ for Syria’s al-Assad as Turkish PM Erdoğan urges an aid corridor amid US call for diplomatic solution

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Um Asseel wipes the face of her 25-year-old son, who was injured during the Syrian violence, whose leg was amputated,
as he lies on a bed after undergoing multiple reconstructive surgeries at the Red Crescent Hospital in Amman. REUTERS photo

Um Asseel wipes the face of her 25-year-old son, who was injured during the Syrian violence, whose leg was amputated, as he lies on a bed after undergoing multiple reconstructive surgeries at the Red Crescent Hospital in Amman. REUTERS photo

Veteran diplomat Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, will offer “a last chance” to President Bashar al-Assad when he visits Damascus on March 10, a Turkish diplomatic source said yesterday.

The offer will give al-Assad the chance to “honorably exit the scene,” the source told the Daily News. Annan will go to Damascus on the same day Russia joins an Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo.

The statement suggests March 10 could be the last date to find a diplomatic solution.
Also yesterday, Turkey called for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor while the U.S. urged diplomacy to end Syria’s violence.

Erdoğan calls for Syria aid corridor

Syria should immediately allow the opening of humanitarian aid corridors and the international community should place stronger pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday.

“The international arena should put pressure on the Syrian administration to distribute humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, particularly people in Homs,” Erdoğan said yesterday, speaking to his deputies in Parliament. “The Arab League’s plan should be implemented without losing more time or lives.”

The prime minister “saluted” the Syrian opposition and warned al-Assad that he would pay for the current violence and his father’s massacres in Hama. “The world did not ask for an explanation from Bashar al-Assad’s father, but it will ask for an explanation from Bashar al-Assad. This time, bloodshed in Syrian cities will not remain unanswered,” he said.

Recalling that the Syrian administration was once more targeting its own people in front of the entire world’s eyes, the prime minister accused the United Nations of being inefficient on the Syrian bloodshed. He also criticized those countries that remained silent on the situation, implying a rebuke to Russia and China for vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution against the al-Assad regime.

“Unfortunately, the international community – particularly at the U.N. – is just watching what is going on in Syria,” Erdoğan said.

Resolutions that were not adopted at the U.N. and the hesitant approach of some countries were strengthening the hand of the Syrian administration, even inciting it to stage more massacres, he said.

“I am addressing the entire world, and the countries that remain silent and indifferent and ignore or tolerate the massacre in Syria. I am also addressing international organizations, which cannot produce solutions to this crisis and which encourage its continuation,” the prime minister said.

A drop of blood or single tear of an innocent child would darken the hands and conscience of those who only watch the massacre as if it were a movie, he said. Turkey would continue to keep the massacre in Syria on the world’s agenda, which will be helped by the fact that Istanbul is hosting a conference on the Syrian crisis in March, he added.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the government’s policy on Syria while speaking to CHP deputies.

Suggesting that the turmoil in Syria was fast becoming a civil war, Kılıçdaroğlu said the situation was more complex than a simple government-opposition conflict. “The AKP did not exercise prudence to prevent the turmoil in Syria. They expected a similar international intervention in Syria as happened in Libya. But the Western powers ignored military intervention in Syria,” he said.

“The prime minister said ‘push has come to shove’ before,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “Now blood is being shed in Syria, and he is watching. Erdoğan is also responsible for this bloodshed […] He should take a lead to secure peace in Syria. Turkey, Russia and Iran should come together to secure peace in Syria. If Erdoğan can succeed in this, he would hold an important role in the region.”

Meanwhile, the prime minister met with Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi and was scheduled to meet with Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch when the Daily News went to press yesterday.

March/07/2012

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