Annan: Syria’s Assad Discussed Transitional Government

Russia and Syria appear to be moving into compliance with peace process, while opposition and their supporters continue to reject it

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has discussed the possibility of forming a transitional government as proposed by an international summit in Geneva last month, UN envoy Kofi Annan said on Wednesday.

Annan said that Assad told him last week that he would consider a political transition and proposed someone who could mediate on behalf of the regime as it explores an interim government with the opposition.

Annan would not identify the person Assad suggested by name, but said: “He did offer a name and I indicated that I wanted to know a bit more about that individual. So we are at that stage.”

In a conference last month, Annan brought together world powers and key regional players to agree to strive for a unity government to be formed in Syria according to a democratic process and that it could include members of the present regime as well as opposition.

Annan said Wednesday that he has urged the UN Security Council to unite and send a message to the Syrian government and the opposition that they would face consequences if they did not comply with an immediate ceasefire.

“He called for the security council members to put aside their national interests and to put joint and sustained pressure on both parties with clear consequences for non-compliance,” Britain’s UN ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant said.

Since Assad has reportedly discussed a possible transition and Russia has announced a full stop to any new weapons sales to Syria, it seems up to the opposition and their supporters to agree to comply with the process.

But the US and its allies in Turkey and the Gulf Arab states have shown no sign they will stop arming the rebel militias, and Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Alexander Pankin claims the opposition has declined political dialogue.

Pankin: “What we heard from many factions and many representatives of the opposition is they are not ready for diplomatic or political dialogue. They don’t trust the current government. They would continue fighting, which is very discouraging.”

Much of the geopolitics of the conflict in Syria has been defined by outside powers aiding either side, causing stalemate in trying to exploit the conflict for their own interests. If its true that Assad and Russia are, if incrementally, moving into compliance with Annan’s plan while the opposition, the US and their allies are staunchly maintaing their postures, a resolution will continue to be unachievable.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.