World powers agree Syria deal, West eyes post-Assad regime
I doubt that Syrians would select people with blood
on their hands to lead them –Annan :
SWITZERLAND: World powers on Saturday agreed a plan for a
transition in Syria that could include current regime members, but the
West did not see any role for President Bashar al-Assad in a new unity
government. Russia and China insisted that Syrians must decide how the
transition should be carried out rather than allow others to dictate
their fate, as the two powers signed up to the final agreement that did
not make any explicit call for Assad to cede power.
The deal came despite initial pessimism from participants about the
prospects of the Geneva talks amid deep divisions between the West and
China and Russia on how to end the violence that claimed at least 83
lives on Saturday.
Rights monitors said most victims were civilians and hundreds more
were trapped in Douma as regime forces stormed the town in Damascus
While international envoy Kofi Annan did not name names and said it
was up to the Syrians to decide who they wanted in a unity government,
he added: “I would doubt that Syrians... would select people with blood
on their hands to lead them.” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made
it clear that Washington did not see a role for Assad in the transition.
“Assad will still have to go. He will never pass the mutual consent
test,” she said.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius took the same stance, saying,
“It's clear that Assad must stand down”.
“No one can imagine for a moment that Assad will feature in the (new)
government, any more than anyone thinks it possible for him to establish
a neutral environment” required by the agreement, he said, adding that
the transition government “will exclude murderers.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague admitted that the deal was a
“compromise agreement” as Russia played up the fact that it had
convinced other world powers that it would be “unacceptable” to exclude
any party from the transition process.
A long-time Syria ally, Russia is loath to cast Assad aside, even as
relations between Moscow and Damascus have cooled.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “How exactly the work on
a transition to a new stage is conducted will be decided by the Syrians
themselves.” “There are no demands to exclude from this process any one
group. This aspect had been present in many of our partners' proposals.
We have convinced them that this is unacceptable,” Lavrov said. Chinese
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also stressed that “outsiders cannot make
decisions for the Syrian people.”
As divisions threatened to scupper talks earlier Saturday, Annan
warned at the opening of the meeting that history would not look
favourably on leaders who failed to chart a strategy to end the
bloodshed in Syria.
A failure to unite also raised the spectre that the conflict that has
claimed 15,800 lives over 16 months in the strategic Middle East country
could spill over to the region and expose the world to fresh threats,
said the former UN chief.
“History is a sombre judge -- and it will judge us all harshly if we
prove incapable of taking the right path today,” Annan told the five
permanent Security Council members -- the United States, Russia,
Britain, China and France -- as well as regional powers Qatar, Turkey,
Kuwait and Iraq. Meanwhile fighting in Syria has only intensified in
recent weeks as both government and opposition forces have received more
weapons from their foreign backers.
In the single most serious incident, mortar fire killed 30 civilians
who were attending a funeral in the town of Zamalka, 10 kilometres (six
miles) east of the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory
for Human rights said. The Observatory did not give any further details
on the Zamalka incident but published two videos from people on the