Friday, 15 February 2013

Syria opposition sets peace settlement parameters

Syria’s opposition umbrella group headed by Moaz al-Khatib has formally set out its parameters for a political settlement in Syria.
The parameters were spelled out in a communiqué concluding an overnight meeting of its politburo in Cairo.
Following is my own translation of the communiqué as posted in Arabic this evening on the group’s Facebook page:
All members of the Syrian National Coalition’s provisional political bureau met in Cairo Thursday to discuss the latest events at the political level and the field of battle. They appraised internal [Syrian], regional and international developments.
Since the National Coalition is eager to end the Syrian people’s suffering and safeguard its national unity, spare our country the horrors of devastation meted out by the criminal regime, and preempt foreign intervention and its risks, the provisional political bureau believes the outlines of a political solution must be based on the following caveats:
1. Realize the aspirations of the Syrian people’s revolution for justice, freedom and dignity, and their quest to spare the country further destruction, ruin and threats and to uphold Syria’s territorial, political and social integrity through transition to a civil, democratic and egalitarian regime.
2. Bashar al-Assad and the decision-making security-military leadership responsible for the country’s current plight are outwith the political process. They won’t be party to any political settlement in Syria. They must be held accountable for all the crimes they committed.
3. The sought-after political solution and country’s future is inclusive of all Syrians, counting all honorable members of state institutions, Baathists and other political, civic and social forces who were not involved in crimes against the Syrian people. Bashar al-Assad and his regime’s central figures cannot possibly represent them.   
4. Any (political) initiative based on the above must include a definitive timeframe and a clearly stated objective.
5. Member States of the UN Security Council -- chiefly the Russian Federation and the United States of America -- must secure appropriate international support and adequate safeguards to make this process possible. They would have to adopt its possible outcome through a binding UN Security Council resolution.
6. We expect the Russian Federation to translate into practical steps the statements of its officials, i.e. that keeping Assad in power is not Russia’s goal. Any Russian understanding with Syrians must be through the legitimate and true representatives of the Syrian people. Russia must acknowledge that no agreement will be implemented so long as the Assad regime and its central figures remain at the helm.
7. The Iranian leadership must recognize that its support of Bashar al-Assad is pushing the region to sectarian strife, which won’t serve anyone’s interest. Iran should realize Assad and his regime have no chance anymore to remain in power. It is impossible for them to prevail over the Syrian people’s will.
8. Our friends and brethren should recognize the key to a political solution ending the bloodshed, bringing stability and safeguarding state institutions lies in changing power balances on the ground. This means supplying the Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and the Joint Chiefs of Staff with all the means to do so.