Saturday 23 September 2017

Clinton warns Assad that regime fall is 'inevitable'

Hillary Clinton. Photo: AP
Hillary Clinton. Photo: AP

Devorah Lauter

America warned the Syrian regime that it would face a catastrophic assault from the growing strength of the armed opposition if its leaders did not stand aside for democratic reforms.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said the failure of international peace efforts would make the demise of the regime a bloody inevitability.

"The sooner there can be an end to the violence and a begetting of a political transition process, not only will fewer people die, but there's a chance to save the Syrian state from a catastrophic assault that would be dangerous not only to the country, but the region," Mrs Clinton said.

"It should be abundantly clear to those who support the Assad regime their days are numbered. There's no doubt that the opposition is getting more effective in their defence of themselves and is going on the offence against the Syrian military and the Syrian government's militias."

Gangs

In an interview with German television yesterday, Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, remained defiant, blaming the US for the conflict, accusing them of offering "the umbrella and political support to those gangs to ... destabilise Syria".

Kofi Annan, the joint UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, travelled to Damascus last night to persuade the regime to halt its aggression, hours after he admitted that his fruitless peace initiative could not go on much longer. He said: "Evidently, we have not succeeded. And maybe there is no guarantee that we will."

There was no sign that the regime was backing down yesterday as its navy staged live fire exercises, launching missiles from the sea and land to "simulate the scenario of repelling a sudden attack".

Mr Annan hoped to restore the calm of April 12, when the violence appeared to stop. "I couldn't believe it," he said. "I turned on the television and saw that al-Jazeera announced everything was calm. If it was possible for one day, why not for a month? Why not once more?"

He said that if the situation improves, UN observers "will be ready to go back to work". Asked why no deadline was agreed upon for the creation of a political transition in Syria, potentially buying time for Mr Assad's regime, he said: "We wanted to underline that the process needed to be led by the Syrians themselves. We didn't want to impose anything, nothing unrealistic." Mr Annan said a key objective of the Geneva meeting on June 30 had been to get nations to pressurise Syria -- notably with Russia's help.

However, Iran's potential contribution to peace should also be taken seriously, he said. "Iran is an actor. It should be part of the solution. It has influence and we can't ignore it," Mr Annan said.

He added that he was "struck" by the fact that while "comments are made about Russia, Iran is mentioned less", in addition to other countries supporting the Syrian regime. He said this "irritates the Russians a lot".

"All these countries claim to want a peaceful solution, but they take individual and collective initiatives that undermine the very meaning of the Security Council resolutions," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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