Saturday, 26 August 2017

Assad is Here to Stay, West Tells Syrian Opposition: The Times

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
In a significant policy shift on the civil war in Syria, Britain and its western allies have finally dropped their long-standing demand that President Assad must step down — and may even accept elections in which he is allowed to stand again, a report said.
Ministers yesterday confirmed a turnaround in policy towards Syria, The Times reported on Saturday.
The British daily said the Syrian opposition leaders were told this week in Riyadh that they now had little choice but to accept that Assad was in Damascus to stay.
“There was no longer any point in holding up talks over Syria’s future by sticking to the position that he (Assad) had to step down before negotiations could begin.”
Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, hinted at the change in an interview on Radio 4’s Today program, according to the daily.
“It is overwhelmingly in the interests of the Syrian people that Assad should go,” the Times quoted Johnson as saying.
“We used to say he has to go as precondition. Now we are saying that he should go but as part of a transition. It is always open to him to stand in a democratic election,” the British foreign secretary added.
In the same context, the daily quoted diplomats as saying that Johnson was confirming a gradual shift forced on the opposition and the West by events on the ground.
The new position was shared by Britain’s allies and the opposition’s regional backers, the daily reported.
It said that Yahya al-Aridi, an opposition spokesman was disappointed with western countries.
The Times also quoted another source as saying:
“Our policy is based around pragmatism and realism. It’s hard to see any future stable and peaceful Syria with Assad still there, given how much damage he has caused. But whether or not he is staying is no longer a precursor to discussions.”

US, Saudi Ask Syria Opposition to Accept Assad’s Political Role: Report

August 25, 2017
US and Saudi diplomats have reportedly been urging the armed Syrian opposition to come to terms with President Bashar al-Assad’s role in Syria’s future, a report said, indicating to the major policy U-turn in the western stance from the Syrian crisis.
In an article published on Thursday, the Associated Press said the Syrian army holds the upper hand on the battlefield against militant groups, pointing to the major shift in the strategies of Western and regional supporters of Syrian opposition groups and militants with regard to the developments in Syria.
“Western and regional rebel patrons, currently more focused on advancing their own interests rather than accomplishing regime change in Damascus, are shifting their alliances and have ceased calls on Assad to step down,” the report said.
Former US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, who is widely considered as Washington’s civil war engineer in different parts of the world and a key instigator of the Syrian conflict in 2011, has ruled out the likelihood of Assad’s removal, saying, “There is no conceivable military alignment that is going to be able to remove him.”
“Everyone, including the US, has recognized that Assad is staying,” said Ford, who is currently a fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C.
According to an interlocutor, who mediates between the opposition and state capitals and requested anonymity, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told the opposition it was time to formulate “a new vision.”
“He did not explicitly say Bashar [Assad] is going to stay, but if you read between the lines, if you say there needs to be a new vision, what is the most contentious issue out there? It is whether Bashar stays,” said the interlocutor, according to the article.
Source: Press TV
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