SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A car bomb killed 13 people in central Damascus on Sunday as President Bashar al-Assad told an international mediator seeking a truce in Syria's civil war that the key to any political solution was to stop arming rebels.
The bomb exploded outside a police station in the mainly Christian central Bab Touma district of the capital while Assad held talks with United Nations-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who is pushing for a temporary ceasefire to mark the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, Reuters reported.
State news agency SANA said the president said Syria supported "any sincere effort to find a political solution to the crisis, based on respect for Syrian sovereignty and rejecting foreign intervention."
Any proposal "must be centered around the principle of halting the terrorism and ... commitment by the countries involved in supporting, arming and harboring the terrorists in Syria to stop these actions," SANA quoted Assad as saying.
Syrian authorities blame neighboring Turkey in particular for the bloodshed because it has sheltered mainly foreign-backed rebels fighting to overthrow Assad. Saudi Arabia and Qatar also support arming the rebels.
On October 7, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on his nation to be prepared for a possible war with the neighboring Syria if need be.
"You have to be ready at every moment to go to war if it is necessary. If you are not ready for this, you are not a state, if you are not ready for this, you are not a nation,” Erdogan said in a speech.
"Nobody should attempt to test Turkey's decisiveness and sensibility,” stated the Turkish prime minister whose country is accused of being a key member of an international coalition attempting to destabilize Syria.
Tensions have been running high between Syria and Turkey, with Damascus accusing Ankara -- along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, and the United States -- of backing a deadly insurgency that has claimed the lives of many Syrians, including security and army personnel.
In Damascus on Sunday, the Interior Ministry said the Bab Touma bomb, on the edge of the old city of Damascus, killed 13 people. Security forces cut off access to the area. Television pictures showed shattered glass on the road and several burnt out cars.
Speaking after his meeting with Assad, Brahimi gave few details of the talks but reiterated his call for a pause in the violence.
"Everyone can start this (ceasefire) when they want, today or tomorrow for example, for the period of the Eid and beyond," he told reporters at a Damascus hotel. Eid al-Adha begins at dusk on Thursday, lasting for three or four days.
Brahimi said he had contacted opposition figures inside and outside Syria, including rebel fighters, as well as officials in neighboring countries, some of which support the insurgency.
"They answered that they would respond positively to a (ceasefire) initiative from the government," he said. "We hope this Eid in Syria will be calm, even if it is not a happy Eid."
He added: "If we do find that this calm continued through the Eid, we will try to build on it. If that does not happen, we will try nevertheless and work to open the path to hope for the Syrian people."
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.
Western states have been calling for President Assad to step down. However, Russia and China are strongly opposed to the Western drive to oust Assad.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Tehran Times
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says the situation is deteriorating in Syria.
Brahimi made the remarks in New York on Monday after briefing the UN Security Council on his mid-September talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Brahimi told the Security Council that the Syrian government estimates there are 5,000 foreign fighters in the country, AFP reported.
"There is no disagreement anywhere that the situation in Syria is extremely bad and getting worse, that it is a threat to the region," Brahimi said outside the council.
He also stated that there are food shortages as harvests have been destroyed in the fighting between government forces and insurgents, adding that 200 of Syria's 2,200 schools have been damaged.
He estimated that 1.5 million Syrians have fled their homes due to the 18-month conflict.
In September, Brahimi visited Syria for the first time after the announcement of his appointment in mid-August.
He replaced Kofi Annan, who announced his resignation in early August, saying his job was impossible after his six-point peace plan went nowhere.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest, and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.
Western states have been calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. However, Russia and China are strongly opposed to the Western drive to oust Assad.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the armed militants are foreign nationals, mostly from Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — French President Francois Hollande has called on the Syrian opposition to form a provisional government, saying his country will recognize it as legitimate.
Hollande’s announcement – the first of its kind – creates new diplomatic pressure against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Syria’s opposition remains badly fragmented, and it is far from clear whether such a provisional government could be formed anytime soon. But such a statement is seen by many as added incentive for the formation of government.
The French leader made annoucement during his first address to the country's ambassadors around the world.
Hollande also warned the Syrian government that there could be a direct military intervention.
"With our partners we remain very vigilant regarding preventing the use of chemical weapons, which for the international community would be a legitimate reason for direct intervention."
This announcement comes after US Barack Obama warned Assad that any use or even movement of the country’s stockpile of chemical weapons would be met by US military intervention.
The French leader also criticized Russia and China, claiming “their attitude weakens our ability to carry out the mandate conferred on us by the UN charter.”
'Free Syrian Army chosen proxies of Foreign powers’ – activist
Brian Becker, director of the ANSWER anti-war coalition, told RT that Western states are pushing forward the idea of a proxy government as a part of their colonial agenda in the Middle East. And such a move would lay a strong basis for a full-scale military intervention, he added.
The French leader has called on the Syrian opposition to form a provisional government, saying France would recognize it… What do you make of this?
Brian Becker: It’s most important to remember that France is the former colonizer of Syria, the colonizer along with the British in the Middle East. It is very odd and ironic, in fact completely hypocritical to have the French government saying to the Syrian opposition ‘you form a government and we will recognize you.’
I mean that’s just a script from the good old days when the colonial powers operated through proxies in Syria, Egypt, wherever the colonialism was, and that was most parts of the world. What we are seeing now is an escalation of foreign intervention.
If France, and if Britain and the United States, if the NATO powers in fact recognize this government by the Syrian opposition, by French colonialism in its new form, then we will see the basis being laid for downright full-scale military intervention to defend this new government which the West will say is the legitimate voice of the Syrian people.
But who would form that new provisional government?
Well, it would be those who would be most keen to the French, British, and US interests. In other words, there was an opposition, a big opposition to the Assad government in Syria that was against violence, against civil war and particularly against foreign intervention. They’ve been pushed to the side and in their place is the Free Syrian Army, the so-called Syrian revolutionaries who are nothing really at this point other than the chosen proxies of the foreign powers.
So it would be they, those who control the monopoly of violence, that is the NATO powers themselves, who will ultimately determine what the character is of this new so-called opposition government, or what they will declare to be the legitimate government of the Syrian people.
Moscow has warned the US and its allies against the so-called 'democracy by bombs' scenario. Meanwhile, the French President has said that Russia and China are 'weakening' the UN over Syria. Do you agree?
BB: That’s the thing, you know, if the United States, and France, and Britain consider the United Nations to be nothing other than their plaything for their own foreign policy, yes they are very disappointed in Russia and China for “weakening the UN.”
But if the UN is actually to be the voice for peace, a method, an instrument to avoid war, to avoid the ravages of colonialism as it has pretended to be at least in the past, then of course Russia and China are doing a completely legitimate function, which is to say ‘no, the United Nations must be the world body not the plaything, not the instrument of French, British and US foreign policy. By their sheer maintaining an independent position they are raising the ire of the Western powers. But of course the people in Syria and the Middle East hope that they’ll stay the course because they need the Middle East to be independent of the former colonial powers.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday that he was "honored, flattered, humbled and scared" at the prospect of leading international efforts to broker peace in Syria's worsening 17-month conflict.
Brahimi met with Ban for the first time since agreeing last week to replace Kofi Annan as the U.N. and Arab League joint special representative on Syria. While he is not due to take up the post officially until September 1, diplomats said Brahimi had already filled Annan's role.
"Secretary-General, when you called me I told you that I was honored, flattered, humbled and scared and I am still in that frame of mind," Brahimi told Ban, when the pair met in New York.
"The Syrian people, they will be our first masters. We will consider their interests above and before anyone else. We will try to help as much as we can, we will not spare any effort," he said. "Let's try and see what we can do."
Brahimi, who hesitated for days before accepting the job that France's U.N. envoy, Gerard Araud, called an "impossible mission," was meeting with U.N. officials on Friday to discuss plans for a new approach to the Syria conflict, which the United Nations says has killed over 18,000 people.
"The longer this fighting goes on, the more people will be killed, the more people will suffer," Ban said on Friday.
"Your (Brahimi's) leadership will be very important, you have the full respect and full support of international community. It is crucially important the Security Council, the whole United Nations system (is) supporting your role," he said.
Brahimi also met on Friday with Araud, president of the U.N. Security Council for August. Brieuc Pont, the spokesman of the French U.N. mission, said they discussed "numerous changes of his mission."
"They shared their extreme concerns about the situation in Syria. The president of the Security Council said he would organize an informal meeting of the Security Council with the joint special representative soon," Pont said.—www.shafaqna.com/english