Civil war urged in Syria, despite polls
DAMASCUS / BEIJING
Rebels take part in an anti-regime protest in Qusayr, near restive Homs on May 7. AFP PhotoInternational powers urged for civil war in Syria while ballots continued to be counted in the “high turnout” election, which was boycotted by opposition activists.
Arab League head Nabil Elaraby warned yesterday that rising violence in Syria could tip the strife-torn country into civil war, and expressed support for the peace plan of U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan. Elaraby also said that an escalation in violence in Syria could spill into neighboring countries. “Escalating military action in Syria will end up leading to a civil war in Syria, which no one wants to see,” Elaraby told reporters at the League office in Beijing.
His comments come after the head of the Red Cross said fighting had been so intense in parts of Syria that at times the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad had qualified as a localized civil war. “We are in a race against time to prevent full-scale civil war -- death on a potentially massive scale,” U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon said yesterday.
Syria said ballot counting was under way yesterday after the parliamentary elections closed. The al-Assad regime praised Monday’s election as a milestone in promised reforms and said officials were counting ballots Tuesday, despite the opposition boycotting the polls. U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on May 7 that balloting in Syria’s current atmosphere “borders on ludicrous.”
China’s foreign minister yesterday urged all parties in Syria to honor their ceasefire commitments, as the U.N. warned that world powers were racing against time to stop war in the restive state. Speaking to Burhan Ghalioun, the visiting head of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), Yang Jiechi also urged the government and opposition groups to cooperate with a U.N. mission deployed in the country.
Lebanese authorities have seized 60,000 rounds of ammunition hidden in two cars on an Italian container ship docked at Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, a security source said.
The U.N. should bolster its mission to Syria with up to 3,000 observers, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday during a visit to Rome. “We need 1,000, 2,000, maybe 3,000 observers, a major mission so they can visit the whole country and see what is happening,” Erdoğan said. “If someone were to ask me what my hopes are, I would say I have lost hope,” he said.
The Syrian president’s adviser Buseyna Shaaban said yesterday that the Syrian people will decide the future of the Syrian regime, noting that the regime has not yet ended. In an exclusive interview with CNNTürk news channel yesterday, Shaaban said the problem is not about the regime, but about the survival of the country.