UN’s envoy: Assad has no place in Syria

UN’s envoy: Assad has no place in Syria

UN’s envoy: Assad has no place in Syria

UN envoy Brahimi says there is no military solution to Syria’s crisis. AP photo

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would have no place in a transitional government established to end civil war, the U.N. peace envoy for Syria said Jan. 9, while reiterating there was no military solution to the conflict.

A peace plan agreed upon by major powers in Geneva last year envisaged an interim administration. “Surely he would not be a member of that government,” Lakhdar Brahimi told Reuters in an interview in Cairo. He reiterated that the Geneva plan remained “the base for a solution in Syria.”

“In Syria, in particular, I think that what people are saying is that a family ruling for 40 years is a little bit too long,” Brahimi told BBC in a separate interview.

He said al-Assad had told him he wanted to run for re-election in 2014. Although Brahimi did not comment directly on whether al-Assad should be allowed to stand, he said the crisis needed to be resolved by the end of 2013 “or there will be no Syria.”

‘The government will not win’
“The government will not win. The opposition may win in the long term, but by the time they do, there will be no Syria, so what is the victory in that?,” the veteran Algerian diplomat said. Syria’s government accused Brahimi of “flagrant bias” against it.

“Syria is shocked by the statements of Lakhdar Brahimi, who has overstepped his mandate and exhibited a flagrant bias for those parties known to be conspiring against Syria and its people,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Brahimi also said al-Assad’s new plan for his embattled country is “more sectarian, more one-sided” than previous initiatives.

“What has been said this time is not really different and it is perhaps even more sectarian, more one-sided,” he said, referring to al-Assad’s recent speech in which he offered a peace plan. “What you need is reaching out and recognizing that there is a... very serious problem between Syrians and that Syrians have got to talk to one another to solve it,” Brahimi said. The plan offered a dialogue with the opposition to end the conflict, but only with elements he deemed acceptable, not rebel-affiliated groups he termed “killers” and “terrorists” led by foreigners.

Meanwhile, Russia urged world powers to let Syrians decide their own future as it prepared for talks today with Washington’s pointman and Brahimi.

A firm statement from Moscow said all talk, particularly that coming from Washington, on ways to remove al-Assad from power was misguided because the ultimate choice rested with Syrians. “Only the Syrians themselves can agree on the model of their country’s future development,” said the Moscow statement.

The comments were issued as Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov went into a closed meeting with his Turkish counterpart Feridun Sinirlioğlu. The Turkish diplomat was also scheduled to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.