U.N. Secretary General Presses America To Accept Iran in The Group of Contact for Syria
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday pressed the United States into admitting Iran to the broader group of negotiation on Syria, a move which is considered to improve the chances of solving the crisis in the restive country and decide the fate of its president.
The announcement was made at Los Cabos, Mexico, where a Group of 20 meeting is being held, and comes hours after the American president Barack Obama said that he and the Russian president Vladimir Putin agreed to work with “all parties involved” in the process of bringing peace to Syria.
After the two-hour meeting with Putin, Barack Obama said that they agreed on the need for the violence to be stopped immediately. Putin for his part said that there were various common points identified by the two parts related to the solution of the conflict in Syria.
The two leaders issued a written statement in which they expressed their commitment to “moving forward toward a political transition” to a democratic and pluralistic political system which will be implemented by the Syrians.
Russia and the United States have been disagreeing on Syria for the last year and a half, during which time the former has been advocating a political transition brokered by the Syrian regime in its own terms, while the latter demanded the removal of Bashar al-Assad from office and the accountability of those who ordered the killings in the country.
The broader group of states to discuss the situation and find a solution agreed by all is the latest development the international community came up with amid frustration caused by termination of the U.S. observer mission on June 18, as a result of the surge of violence across Syria and the withdrawal of the personnel to bases.
Discussions between Obama and Putin on Syria are expected to offer a new chance to the solution of the crisis after the six-point plan offered by Kofi Annan succombed. Ban Ki-moon, who met with Obama on Monday, will meet Putin on Tuesday.
Russia is said to distrust American motives for intervening in the Arab Spring, considering that they are connected to replacing the leaders in the Arab world that are not compliant with the U.S. policies with some who are more cooperative.
Russian president Putin was among those who objected to the imposing of a no-fly zone in Libya, which led to the toppling of the former president Muammar al-Qaddafi and his killing in a violent manner in October.
On that occasion, the then-premier Putin publicly disagreed with the then-president Medvedev for having abstained when the resolution on Libya was passed. Russia opposed to the idea of imposing the no-fly zone on Libya, and criticized the attacks of NATO on governmental positions.
When the Syrian crisis broke out, Russia pledged not to repeat the same mistake again, and vetoed two U.N. resolutions in October and February, insisting that the conflict in Syria must be dealt with by political means, not by military intervention.
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. criticized the Russian vote on both occasions, alluding to the military deals Russia has with Damascus. Earlier this month, the U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton accused Russia of selling weapons and helicopters to the Syrian army, a charge Moscow and the Syrian authorities have dismissed.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov replied to Clinton’s accusation that his country does not send to Syria or other places things that can be used against peaceful demonstrators, as the U.S. does.
Russia and the United States also had different opinions on bringing Shiite Iran to the group of contact, America protesting against the idea and calling it, through Hillary Clinton, a “grave error,” while the U.N. Secretary General pressed for cooperation with all local powerhouses in hopes to find a viable solution.
Meanwhile, the reports from the field show that people continue to die in Syria, according to the reports of the activists, which speak of 20 people killed on Monday alone.
The Guardian cites Al Jazeera to say that Adnan Sello, leader of Syria’s Chemical Warfare Division, has defected and is now in Turkey. Syria is believed to have a large stockpile of chemical weapons, and its future was cause for concern on the part of the international community, not because the government would be feared to use them, but because they could fall in criminal hands, if the regime falls.
The Syrian government claims to attempt to evacuate people in Homs, as the activists show images of bombardment. Homs has been a hotbed of the Syrian revolution, a place where it started and was under attack since all began.
Syrian government has accused the rebels of attempting to obstruct the evacuation of the people, while activists say that the city, the third largest in the country, was surrounded by the army and pounded by mortar and artillery fire daily since early June, causing tens of thousands to flee the city.
The activists accuse the government that it is using tens of thousands of families as human shields in their fighting with the rebels.
Earlier this week, the U.N. head of peacekeepers stated that Syria was in a state of civil war, and the head of supervision mission in Syria is expected to brief the UNSC on the developments in the mission.
The group of contact is said by some diplomats at the U.N. to attempt to cut a deal the same way the deal on Yemen was cut last year. Russia and Iran have been circulated unofficially as places where Assad may go, if he should agree to relinquish power. Russia denied such information.
Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman speculated that the Alawite community may want to create a state of their own along the Mediterranean border. Zaman said that the attacks on the territories in that region show that he may want to clear the area of Sunnis, something some fear in Syria also.11