Syria solution should not only be about Assad: Rouhani
AFP photoIran’s president said on Nov. 11 that any resolution of the Syrian conflict must focus on the need for strong government in Damascus, and not only on the fate of President Bashar Assad, while the foreign ministers of Russia and the United States have talked on the phone ahead of the Vienna peace talks on Nov. 14.
It is “not a question of a person, it is a question of security and stability,” President Hassan Rouhani said an interview with French media, according to the France 2 television channel, though he did not mention Assad by name, according to Agence France-Press.
“We must all make efforts to eradicate terrorism in Syria and ensure that peace and stability return,” he said in the interview, also broadcast on Europe 1 radio.
As for who should run the country, “it is all in the hands of the Syrians. It is for them to decide who is their leader,” said Rouhani.
Iran is the main regional ally of Syria and provides Assad with financial and military aid, including military advisers on the ground.
On the same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed by phone preparations for international peace talks on Syria on Nov. 14, Reuters reported.
Lavrov’s ministry said in a statement that key aims of such talks was included promoting dialogue between Syrians with the engagement of all influential international players.
Syrian opposition figures and Gulf commentators dismissed on Nov. 10 a Russian draft proposal for a process to solve the Syrian crisis, saying Moscow’s aim was to keep President Assad in power and marginalize dissenting voices. The document called for drafting a new constitution within 18 months that would be put to a popular referendum and then be followed by an early presidential election.
An official Syrian newspaper, al-Baath, said any talk about a transitional period, amending the constitution or early presidential elections was “premature.”
Al-Baath, which is the mouthpiece of the ruling Baath party, said on Nov. 12 that the prospects to achieve progress in the second round of talks in Vienna this weekend over Syria’s crisis are dim due to the failure to reach a clear definition of the moderate opposition.
The Syrian government calls all insurgent groups terrorist organizations and says opposition groups outside the country are foreign-paid agents.
Meanwhile, Britain’s UN envoy Matthew Rycroft said on Nov. 11 that the Russian plan for political reform in Syria will not be a focal point of the upcoming Vienna talks, Agence France-Presse reported.