Al-Assad’s fate ‘red line’ for Iran: Aide

Al-Assad’s fate ‘red line’ for Iran: Aide

Al-Assad’s fate ‘red line’ for Iran: Aide

A demonstrator holds a weapon during a protest against al-Assad. REUTERS photo

A senior aide to Iran’s supreme leader warned against the overthrow of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, saying his fate was a “red line,” in one of the Iran’s strongest messages of support for the Damascus government.

“If Bashar al-Assad is toppled, the line of resistance in the face of Israel will be broken,” Ali Akbar Velayati, who is seen as a potential contender in Iran’s June presidential election, said in an interview with Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen channel yesterday. Asked if Iran sees al-Assad as a red line, Velayati said: “Yes, it is so. But this does not mean that we ignore the Syrian people’s right in choose its own rulers,” Reuters reported. Iran has steadfastly backed al-Assad’s rule and regards him as an important part of the axis of opposition against arch-foe Israel.

Similarly to Velayati, Syria’s foreign minister Walid al-Moualem said on Jan. 19 any discussion of President Bashar al-Assad’s future was “unacceptable,” a week after the international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to the country said the president should not be part of a transitional government. “No one should dare discuss the position of the president ... this is unacceptable,” he said.

Opposition to held meeting in Paris

Syrian opposition leaders will meet in Paris on Jan. 28, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said yesterday, according to Agence France-Presse. “The situation is horrific and Bashar must go as fast as possible,” Fabius said. He added that the Paris meeting would involve the “main backers” of the opposition coalition. Syria’s opposition leaders met in Istanbul on Jan. 19 to launch their second bid to form a transitional government.