Secretary of State John Kerry warned the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad that if it chooses not to participate in upcoming international negotiations aimed at ending the country’s two-year conflict, then “the opposition will be receiving additional support.”
After a visit to Moscow, Kerry said he expects every party to the conflict to participate in an international conference to negotiate a peaceful transition in Syria, planned for early June. The conference will be endorsed by both the U.S. and Russia.
“If he decides not to come to the table it will be another one of President Assad’s gross miscalculations. Now, I don’t believe that that is the case at this moment,” Kerry said.
“If President Assad decides to miscalculate again about that,” Kerry added, “as he has miscalculated about his own country’s future over the course of the last years, it is clear the opposition will be receiving additional support, there will be additional efforts made and unfortunately the violence will not end.”
What Kerry didn’t mention is that the Syrian rebels, which have no organized leadership, have consistently and defiantly opposed any negotiations with the Assad regime. Still, his warning was issued to the Syrian government and not the rebels.
In any case, the threat is probably an empty one meant for rhetoric only. While the Obama administration has facilitated the delivery of weapons and other aid from countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it has stopped short of directly arming the rebels, citing concerns about weapons getting in the hands of terrorists.
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