Kofi Annan Announces Syrian President Accepted Peace Plan
International peace U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan, on Tuesday announced that Syria has accepted the six-point peace offer he had presented president Bashar al-Assad with during his meetings with him in Damascus.
Annan on Tuesday met with Chinese officials, including prime minister Wen Jiabao, and informed China of the response that came to Annan in a letter Assad sent to him. China offered to mediate the conflict in Syria in hopes that the violence would end, and the parties involved would return to negotiations.
The six-point plan proposed by Annan calls on the Syrian forces and the rebels to end violence, and engage in negotiations. It also addresses the necessity to release the political detainees. The reason why the plan seems to have been accepted by Damascus and its allies Russia and China is that Annan’s plan does not demand that Bashar al-Assad step down.
U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said that there is a basic structure in place to make possible cooperation with Russia and China to see how they can help the situation in Syria. He said that in spite on the differences on Syria, at least Annan’s proposal is a framework within which the first goal can be achieved, namely the end of violence, the offering of humanitarian help and the transition of the country.
Rhodes said however that the United States strongly believes that the transition of Syria to democracy and freedom can only be achieved through the ouster of Bashar al-Assad.
The announcement made by Kofi Annan was hailed by some of the members of the opposition in Syria, mainly from the Syrian National Council, while other groups of the opposition consider that Annan’s mission is only playing into Assad’s hand, who will thus stall hoping to put down in the meantime the revolution.
On Tuesday, the Syrian government was reported to have entered the territory of Lebanon chasing after the rebels. On Monday, the Turkish officials announced that they may decide to open a buffer zone on the Syrian territory to protect the people in this region of the restive country and its own border.
Turkey on Monday said that no decision has been made yet as to when the buffer would be established, but that it would be installed if the violence continue and the death toll would reach as many as 100 people killed every day. Turkey also expressed its desire to have an international backing in the installation of a buffer zone, given that it would practically mean entering the Syrian territory, a move Russia and China have long criticized and warned against.
Before visiting China to demand the officials there to support his bid to end conflict in Syria, Kofi Annan visited Russia, where he held talks with the leaders in Moscow, and received assurances that Russia would back up his plan.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia would support Annan’s plan, which it considered more realistic than the resolutions presented on the floor of the United Nations Security Council, which Russia vetoed on two occasions, one in October 2011 and the other in February 2012.
Lavrov added that president Assad had made a series of mistakes in handling the situation in Syria, since the beginning, when the people were in the streets in a peaceful manner, demanding civil rights and were met with crackdown by the security forces.
He added that Damascus must end violence and allow a two-day ceasefire so that the humanitarian agencies may tend to the wounded and the displaced. Outgoing president Dmitry Medvedev warned however that the Syrian people must be the one to have the final saying in things pertaining to their own fate.
He said he would like the decisions about social, political and civil matters in Syria to be made by the people not by the respected leaders of the world, even when they act in good faith.
Syrian state-run television SANA said that the members of the parliament demanded Assad to postpone the parliamentary elections scheduled for May 7 to allow to see the outcome of the dialogue proposed by Assad.
The elections come as a result of the reforms Assad is said to have implemented, one of which is the reduction of the presidential term to maximum two seven-year terms in office. The fact that the new law does not specify if the incumbent president is eligible for two new terms in office, which would prolong his staying in power for another decade.
Meanwhile a summit is expected to be held in Iraq, the first time in 20 years when Baghdad holds such a meeting, in a bid to re-emerge on the international level. The Arab economy ministers met on Tuesday having on the agenda the Syrian situation. The same is expected to happen on Wednesday, when the foreign ministers are expected to debate over the Syrian issue. The Arab League will probably not demand that Bashar al-Assad step down, to allow Kofi Annan to carry on his plan.11