Moscow rules out Syria without al-Assad in future
‘Al-Assad is not mad. He must receive some kind of guarantees or some kind of proposals on the development of political dialogue in Syria itself,’ PM Medvedev says. REUTERS photoRussia hopes an international peace conference on Syria will be held before the end of this year, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, despite reported differences with the United States over opposition representation.
He appealed to both sides in Syria’s civil war to compromise and criticized the opposition for demanding assurances of President Bashar al-Assad’s departure as a condition for the talks, according to Reuters.
“I think that the ideas that are sometimes put forward - let’s exclude President Assad and then agree on everything - are unrealistic as long as Assad is in power,” Medvedev said.
“He’s not mad. He must receive some kind of guarantees or, in any case, some kind of proposals on the development of political dialogue in Syria itself, on possible elections, on his personal fate.”
“I hope it will be possible to hold the conference by the end of this year but we understand that the influence of all sides taking part is limited,” Medvedev told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday.
“It depends to a great extent on the positions of the Syrian sides. We’re pushing them towards this, and I hope everyone who talks to different circles in Syria will do the same,” he said. “It’s a difficult process and everyone must compromise, including opposition leaders and the Syrian government, of course.”
Russia has been Assad’s most powerful backer during the two-and-a-half-year-old conflict, delivering weapons, blocking three U.N. Security Council resolutions meant to pressure him and saying his exit cannot be a precondition for peace talks.
The latest target date for the talks, Nov. 23, looks likely to be pushed back and sources close to the negotiations say a main point of contention is the role of the Western-backed opposition coalition.
No talks without opposition
Meanwhile, UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said on Nov.1 that the proposed “Geneva II” peace conference to end Syria’s civil war could not be held without the opposition.
“If the opposition does not participate there will be no Geneva conference,” Brahimi said in Damascus before returning to Beirut as part of a regional tour to garner support for the US-Russian peace initiative, according to Agence France – Presse.
“The participation of the opposition is essential, necessary and important,” the veteran Algerian diplomat said, adding the proposed conference was intended “to help the Syrians and resolve their problems.”
Brahimi, who met with President Bashar al-Assad on Oct. 30, said “the Syrian government has agreed to participate in Geneva.”
“The opposition, whether the National Coalition or others, are trying to find a way to be represented,” he said, referring to the main opposition bloc.