Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has discussed the possibility of forming a transitional government for his country as proposed by an international conference in Geneva last month, Kofi Annan said on Wednesday.
Annan, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, said that during his discussions with Assad in Damascus this week the Syrian leader proposed someone who could serve as an interlocutor for the regime as it explores ways of forming a transitional government with the opposition.
Activists estimate that 17,000 people have been killed in the regime’s crackdown on a popular uprising that began that began in March 2011. As the conflict has dragged on, the increasingly armed rebellion appears to be getting more radicalised and violent, complicating the goal of a peaceful resolution or transfer of power. The Syrian ambassador to Iraq defected to the opposition on Wednesday, striking a major blow to the regime.
Annan spoke to reporters in Geneva after a private videoconference session with the UN security council in New York. The envoy did not identify the person whose name Assad put forward, 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.”
Annan urged the 15-nation council, the most powerful arm of the United Nations, to send a message to the Syrian government and the opposition that there will be “consequences” if they don’t comply with demands for an immediate cease-fire, Britain’s UN ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, said.
“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,” Lyall Grant said after the meeting.
To accomplish that, he added, western nations would be introducing a draft resolution threatening sanctions against the Syrian government and opposition if Annan’s six-point peace plan and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition adopted in Geneva last month are not implemented. The proposed resolution would be under chapter 7 of the UN charter, which can be enforced militarily.
Russia and China, key allies of Assad and veto-wielding council members, have blocked repeated attempts by the United States and its European allies to even threaten “consequences” – a diplomatic code word for sanctions.
Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Alexander Pankin, said Annan “sounded very concerned, [but] there are encouraging signs” after his meeting with Assad.
“Kofi Annan did not ask us to apply sanctions. He just said that the security council should speak in a united and single voice and make sure to send a signal that its suggested recommendations and actions have to be implemented,” Pankin said. Russia wants “consolidated pressure on all parties,” he added, and believes that any militarily enforceable resolution “is the last resort”.
Two Syrian opposition delegations visited Moscow this week, raising hopes that Russia could be pushed to accept Assad’s ouster, but Syrian National Council head Abdelbaset Sieda said he saw “no change” in Moscow’s stance after meeting with officials including the foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. Sieda said Russia’s resistance to international intervention in the conflict was bringing misery and suffering to Syria.
Pankin said: “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.”
Annan’s peace plan, submitted in March and accepted by Assad’s government, called for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons from populated areas by the Syrian government to be followed by a cessation of hostilities by the opposition. It led to a ceasefire agreement on 12 April, which has failed to hold.
The UN sent a 300-strong unarmed observer mission to Syria for 90 days to oversee the cessation of violence and monitor implementation of the Annan plan. The team was forced to withdraw from key conflict areas because of escalating fighting and the council must decide what to do about extending its mandate, which expires on 20 July.
At a conference in Geneva on 30 June, Russia insisted that any political transition must have the “mutual consent” of Assad’s government and the opposition, essentially handing a veto on the peacemaking process to both sides.
On the eve of Annan’s briefing on Wednesday, Russia circulated a draft resolution to security council members that would extend the UN observer force mission in Syria but refocus its activities on trying to achieve a political solution to the conflict.
Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and the United States were drafting rival texts but were waiting to hear what Annan had to say.
France’s UN ambassador, Gerard Araud, said the Russian draft has “no teeth” to ensure implementation of the Annan plan and the guidelines for a political process which is why a chapter 7 resolution threatening sanctions is critical.
Annan briefed the council on his talks with Assad in Damascus and his visits to Iran and Iraq. He told reporters in Tehran and Baghdad on Tuesday that Assad agreed to a plan to contain the bloodshed in the most violent areas of Syria step-by-step and then expand the operation to the whole country.
Annan said on Wednesday, however, that these steps would be incorporated into the broader six-point plan that he has insisted on all along.
“Within that framework the discussion we had was to take action at those locations where one has such horrific violence that you can’t get in humanitarian assistance, people who are trapped couldn’t get out, and work out ceasefire arrangements at these localities with possibly the help of UNSMIS [the UN truce mission],” Annan said.
“This does not free anybody from the broader obligation of the ceasefire as indicated in the plan,” he said.
Wednesday 11 July 2012
Heyam Aqil: Congratulations Syria’s Kurds, today Erbil Declaration has been signed between the Kurdish National Council KNC and PYD/PKK. We hope all the points gets implemented on ground and our unity becomes the base for our struggle to get the Kurdish national rights secured in the New Syria.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: More than 100 people killed in Syria today. The documented number of Syrians civilians killed today (Wednesday 11/7/2012) has risen to 5344 Unarmed civilians:
-In Homs 5 killed. 1 civilian was killed by the bombardment on the town of al-Houla, Reef Homs. A civilian was killed by sniper fire in al-Qusayr. A woman was killed by sniper fire on the Talbisa-Teir Ma’ala road, Reef Homs. 3 children were killed tank bombardment on town of al-Rastan.
-In Reef Dimashq 7 killed. 2 were killed by regime fire in the al-Hejariya area. 4 civilians were killed in al-Tel, by gunfire and clashes around the city. A young girl was killed by a sniper in the city of Dareyya.
-In Damascus 2 civilians were killed by gunfire when regime forces stormed the al-Qadam neighbourhood of Damascus.
-In Dera’a province 5 killed. 2 by sniper fire in the city of Dera’a. a woman was killed by wounds received during last night’s bombardment in the town of al-Mata’iya. 1 civilian was killed by regime forces storming the town of Tel Shihab. A child was killed by regime fire in the town of Da’el, Reef Dera’a.
-In Aleppo province 5 civilians were killed. A 14-year-old girl was killed by the bombardment on the village of al-Abizmo, Reef Aleppo. The body of a civilian was found on the Atarib-Aleppo road, days after he was kidnapped by unknown gunmen. 2 civilians, including a child, were killed by sniper wounds in the town of A’zaz. An unidentified body was found on the road to A’zaz.
-In Hama province 4 civilians were killed in the city of Souran. 1 was summarily executed by regime forces when they stormed the city. The bodies of the 3 other civilians were found, they were killed by pro-regime fighters.
-In Deir Izzor province 7 killed. A woman was killed by the regime bombardment on the town of Khesham, Reef Deir Izzor. 5 civilians were killed by clashes and the widescale bombardment on the city of Deir Izzor. A civilian died at midnight by regime fire.
– In Idlib province 7 killed. 5 civilians, including a woman, were killed when regime forces fired at a minibus on the road to Latakia. 2 bodies were found in the province, 1 had signs of torture, the other was unidentified and found in the road between Ma’arat Hurma and Ma’arzeita.
-In Latakia province 1 civilian was killed when regime forces stormed the al-Qasatel area in Reef Latakia
9 Insurgents killed:
Homs prov: 5 rebel fighters were killed during clashes in Baba Amr, Khaldiya and the Jourat al-Shayyah neighbourhoods of Homs.
Reef Dimashq: A rebel fighter died of earlier wounds in the city of Douma.
Aleppo prov: A rebel fighter was killed during clashes in A’zaz, Reef Aleppo.
Deir Izzor: A rebel fighter died of wounds received during clashes yesterday in the Hamidiya neighbourhood of Deir Izzor.
Latakia prov: A rebel fighter was killed during clashes in the Sifsafa village, Reef Latakia.
14 bodies were found. 13 of them belonged to members of the Palestinian Liberation Army, who were kidnapped some days ago while on their way to the al-Nayrab camp in the city of Aleppo.
A civilian was killed when his car was targeted by an IED in the al-Adwa neighbourhood of Damascus.
7 defected soldiers were killed during clashes in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Dera’a and Reef Dimashq.
Activists report that 6 soldiers were summarily executed in Jdeidat Artouz, Reef Dimashq, when they tried to defect with some heavy military equipment.
No less than 28 members of the Syrian armed forces were killed, 3 of them were officers. They were killed when security and military vehicles were targeted, and during clashes with rebel fighters, in Reef Dimashq, Idlib, Aleppo, Latakia and Dera’a.
Salih Muslim is leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that is influential in the Kurdish areas of Syria. PYD leaders say they are determined to stop the bloodshed of the Syrian revolution from spilling into Kurdish cities, which has recently caused tension with other groups including supporters of the Kurdish National Council (KNC). Muslim spoke with Rudaw about the current situation in Syria and efforts towards Kurdish unity in the face of the ongoing turmoil.
Q: Recently, Kurdish political parties from Syria met with Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani. Do you think the meeting will have a positive effect on Kurdish unity in Syria?
Salih Muslim: All Kurds love President Barzani. He deserves everyone’s respect. It is always for good that he invites us to meet. We all know that there are some disagreements between Kurdish political parties in Syria. We met President Barzani for that reason. He wants us to resolve our disagreements. We believe the disagreements have been exaggerated to Barzani so the meeting was an opportunity to explain the truth to him. Without a doubt, the meeting was fruitful.
Q: What were the outcomes of the meeting?
Salih Muslim: I am not going to discuss the details. President Barzani asked us about the current situation in Syrian Kurdistan. In general, the discussions were mostly questions and answers.
Q: Has the office of the Kurdistan Region presidency suggested any solution to unite Kurds in Syria?
Salih Muslim: No, it has not. The presidential staff only asks us to work together and unite our voice.
Q: Do you think, after the meeting with Barzani, Kurdish political parties in Syria will become closer?
Salih Muslim: I believe the meeting will have positive outcomes. Nothing can come between us if we are all honest with each other.
Q: Does the PYD consider itself part of the PKK? Did you consult with the PKK about visiting President Barzani?
Salih Muslim: We told them that we were going to visit President Massoud Barzani and they said that we are in charge in Syrian Kurdistan and can do what is best for our people.
Q: It is said that the PYD has set up a checkpoint in the Efrin area. Don’t you think this will become a barrier to Kurdish unity?
Salih Muslim: No. Why would protecting Kurds be an obstacle? We have checkpoints not only in Efrin, but all over Syrian Kurdistan including in Kobani, Cizre, Derik and Qamishli. The checkpoints protect the roads and villages in Kurdish areas. People feel protected because of these checkpoints so we must thank them for that.
Q: But the Kurdish National Council and your national council previously signed an agreement to eradicate spreading arms in the Kurdish areas.
Salih Muslim: The agreement was mainly for political unity, instead of preventing the spread of arms. None have implemented the points of that agreement.
Q: So you will not remove the checkpoints until the other points of the agreement are implemented?
Salih Muslim: No, that is not the case. I believe having checkpoints is necessary because they protect people from robbers and murderers. We feel obligated to protect our people because the security is unstable as the government has lost control over these areas.
I believe Kurdish political parties understand the necessities of these checkpoints, but they oppose them because they are not part of it. Our door is open for anyone who wants to become part of it. It is foolish to say checkpoints aren’t necessary in this situation. If it was not for these checkpoints, Kurds would have been harassed by the Arabs.
Q: A few days ago, a member of the PYD was killed in Efrin. You overreacted to the incident. Why?
Salih Muslim: He was beheaded. There is no beheading in our culture. We don’t want any Kurds to be harmed. Human life is valuable. It is hard to control yourself when you see your friend has been beheaded. Without a doubt, it is not good to overreact. We regret it. We created a five-member committee from the Kurdish National Council, National Council and an independent member to follow up on this issue and will soon release a statement to the public in this regard.
Q: Will you accept the results released by the committee?
Salih Muslim: Of course. We all should accept the report of the committee.
Q: Riyaz Assad, the spokesperson for the Free Syrian Army, previously told Rudaw that their forces have tried to enter Efrin area, but the PKK has not allowed them to. How long will you plan to prevent them from entering Efrin?
Salih Muslim: It is not the PKK and PYD who have prevented the Free Syrian Army from entering Efrin, it is the people. They want to protect their areas themselves. We don’t want the Free Syrian Army to enter Kurdish villages and give the Syrian military an excuse to wipe them out. It is our duty to protect our people.
The Free Syrian Army is not a coordinated army. It has 100 divisions but they don’t communicate with each other. [Riyaz] Assad might speak on behalf of the Free Syrian Army, but they ignore his statements. It was [Free Syrian Army deputy leader] Malik Kurdi and his force who wanted to enter Efrin,www.ekurd.net and they have no link to Assad. Some people carry weapons and claim to be part of the Free Syrian Army just to rob people. They hold hostages for ransom in the name of the Free Syrian Army.
Q: Do you expect President Assad’s regime will fall soon?
Salih Muslim: I believe he won’t leave until he kills all of Syria. He might leave when the country is a total mess. The Syrian regime is brutal. We must do whatever we can to prevent it from shedding blood in the Kurdish areas. The regime is preparing to build an Alawi government.
By Hemin Khoshnaw – Rudaw
[local time] 22:16 Syrian authorities have arrested a prominent businessman and opposition figure on charges of inciting civil disobedience, a top human rights activist told AFP on Wednesday.
21:18 The UN and Arab League peace envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, said on Wednesday the UN Security Council was discussing what action it could take next to address the crisis.
20:23 NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday urged Russia to help find a political solution for Syria, after Moscow vowed not to follow a Western arms embargo on the conflict-torn country.
20:10 Syria’s Wednesday death toll continued to spiral as at least 52 people were killed in violence around the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
20:01 Western powers on the UN Security Council are poised to present a draft resolution on Syria seeking to increase pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, envoys said Wednesday.
17:09 Russia’s support of the Syrian regime is allowing the violence in the country to continue, the leader of the main exiled Syrian opposition group said after talks in Moscow Wednesday.
16:22 Twenty-five Syrian refugees were among 150 migrants in three separate landings on Italian shores on Wednesday, the police said, adding that the Syrians had to be rescued after their boat ran aground.
15:37 Russia said Wednesday it would fulfill a contract to deliver air defense systems to Syria and had no plans to impose an arms embargo on its Soviet-era ally despite growing pressure from the West.
15:12 15:12 Syria’s ambassador to Iraq Nawaf Fares has defected from the regime of embattled President Bashar al-Assad, an Arab diplomat in Baghdad told AFP Wednesday.
13:40 Russia has refused to shift its controversial position on the crisis in Syria, the opposition Syria National Council (SNC) said Wednesday after talks in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
12:53 Activists said on Wednesday that Syrian security forces killed 13 people, Al-Arabiya reported.
12:41 Syria’s opposition in exile and activists on the ground have hit out at international envoy Kofi Annan, accusing him of treating the victim and aggressor in the country’s brutal conflict on the same terms.
11:26 The head of Syria’s main exiled opposition group sought Wednesday to convince Russia to drop all support for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, saying there was no hope of a political transition.
11:02 Rebels and regime troops clashed in the Damascus district of Qadam on Wednesday, while two soldiers were killed in the northern city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
8:05 Russia will host a top opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday hoping to find common ground with one of the most scathing critics of its refusal to turn against the Damascus regime.
7:57 Russia on Tuesday proposed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria that would extend the UN mission in the conflict-stricken country without any threat of sanctions, diplomats said.
7:51 Non-government groups complained Tuesday that they have been excluded from international talks on a conventional arms treaty that have now entered a second week.
Syria’s ambassador to Iraq says he has defected to the opposition – the first senior diplomat to abandon the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Nawaf Fares is the first senior Syrian diplomat to abandon the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The move comes just a week after a Syrian general from a powerful family close to President Assad also defected.
Meanwhile Western nations are urging the UN to threaten tough sanctions against Syria as the Security Council opens talks on the future of its observer mission in the country.
The Security Council must pass a new resolution before the mission’s mandate ends on Friday next week.
Mr Fares confirmed his defection in a statement broadcast on al-Jazeera TV.
With Syrian revolutionary flags behind him, he read out the statement saying: “I announce my resignation from my post as ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic to the brotherly republic of Iraq.”
He also announced he was quitting Syria’s ruling Baath party.
Tribal chiefMr Fares described the situation in Syria as a “horrific massacre by the criminals of a brutal regime”.
He said he believed that there was no longer any hope of real reform.
Mr Fares – a former governor of several provinces – was appointed ambassador to Baghdad in 2008. He was the first Syrian envoy to Iraq for nearly three decades, because of bad relations between the two countries.
The BBC’s Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says, significantly, he is also chief of a Sunni tribe, the Uqaydat, which straddles Syria’s eastern border with Iraq.
That area, around the city of Deir al-Zour, has become a hotbed of support for the rebels and has been heavily bombarded in recent weeks, he adds.
Syria has been convulsed by internal conflict since protests against President Assad began early last year. The protests turned into a armed rebellion, and thousands of people have been killed.
WASHINGTON – Government forces in Syria are targeting women for rape and assault as the conflict between President Bashar al-Assad and anti-government forces continues to escalate, according to a report released by a human rights group on Wednesday…
11 Jul 2012: Kofi Annan says Syrian president proposed someone who could serve as interlocutor for regime