Home > International
 
Syria crisis: Minister says civil war has reached stalemate
From: BBC          Published On: September 20, 2013, 05:13 GMT
 
  Comments ()     Email     Print  

     
 




Syria crisis: Minister says civil war has reached stalemate

Syria's deputy prime minister says the civil war has reached stalemate with neither side strong enough to win.

Qadri Jamil told the UK's Guardian newspaper that at proposed peace talks in Geneva, Damascus would call for a ceasefire with the armed opposition.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says Mr Jamil seems to be reflecting a drive by Russia to prepare for peace talks.

Meanwhile, the US has called on the UN Security Council to act over Syria's chemical weapons.

Secretary of State John Kerry called on the council to pass a "binding resolution" when it meets next week.

'Neutral monitors'

Mr Jamil told the Guardian that the Syrian economy had suffered catastrophic losses in the civil war that began in early 2011.

More than 100,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the UN, and millions have fled the country or been made homeless."Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," he said.

"This zero balance of forces will not change for a while."

Mr Jamil insisted that he was speaking for the government.

He said that if the long-delayed Geneva peace talks are revived the government would propose a ceasefire monitored by troops from neutral or friendly countries.

This, he said, would pave the way for a peaceful political process free from outside interference.

Nobody should fear, he added, that the regime in its current form would continue.

"For all practical purposes the regime in its previous form has ended. In order to realise our progressive reforms we need the West and all those who are involved in Syria to get off our shoulders," he said.

Our correspondent says his comments are bound to be dismissed by the opposition which is deeply sceptical about talk of reform and democracy from government sources.

Mr Jamil is a former communist whose party took part in demonstrations against the government at the beginning of the uprising. He is not a hard-core Baath Party loyalist, our correspondent adds.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran was ready to help broker peace in Syria as part of what he called his country's "constructive engagement" policy with other nations.

In an article in the Washington Post newspaper, Mr Rouhani wrote: "We must join hands to constructively work toward national dialogue, whether in Syria or Bahrain. We must create an atmosphere where peoples of the region can decide their own fates.

"As part of this, I announce my government's readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition."

Security Council call

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, is currently in Damascus where he has been meeting top officials and also leaders of the tolerated opposition. Both Russia and the US say they want to build on their agreement concerning chemical weapons to revive the stalled peace process.

Meanwhile, Mr Kerry said a "definitive" UN report had proven that the Syrian government was behind a deadly chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs of Ghouta on 21 August.

Damascus - backed by Moscow - has insisted that rebel forces carried out the attack.

The US threatened military strikes against Syria in response, but put them on hold after agreeing to a Russian plan to destroy Syria's chemical weapons' stockpiles.

Syria has agreed to the disarmament plan unveiled by the US and Russia last weekend.

The West wants the deal enshrined in a UN resolution backed by the threat of military force but Russia - Syria's ally - objects.

Mr Kerry said the UN Security Council must be willing to act when the UN General Assembly holds its annual meeting in New York next week.

"Now the test comes. The Security Council must be prepared to act next week," Mr Kerry said.

"It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria's chemical weapons.

"We have to recognise the world is watching to see whether we can avert military action and achieve through peaceful means even more than what those military strikes promised."

First test
Mr Kerry said the removal of Syria's chemical weapons was possible through peaceful means but the UN had to follow through on the agreement struck in Geneva.

"We need everyone's help to see the Security Council lives up to its founding values and passes a binding resolution that codifies the strongest possible mechanism to achieve the goal and to achieve it rapidly."

Correspondents say the disarmament plan faces its first big test on Saturday with the one-week deadline for Syria to provide a list of its chemical weapons facilities.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was "confident" that Syria's chemical weapons could be destroyed under the US-Russian plan, but was not "100% sure".

He pointed out that Syria had already made steps to join the international Chemical Weapons Convention.

"These are practical steps which the Syrian government has already made," he said.

"Whether we will manage to see everything through, I cannot say 100%. But everything that we have seen up to now, in recent days, inspires confidence that this is possible and that it will be done."

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in an interview with Fox News, said it could take about a year to destroy Syria's chemical stockpiles and could cost about $1bn (623m).





Comments ( ): Have Your Say >>