Syria Accepts U.N.-Arab League Peace Plan
The six-point peace plan proposed by the U.N. -Arab League special envoy to Syria, Kofi Ananan, in an attempt to end the conflict, has reportedly been accepted by Syrian regime. The plan stressed the need for the Syrian government and the opposition to agree on a cease-fire and engage in a dialogue. However the plan does not call for the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, at the behest of Russia and China. However, China and Russia both claim to support the peace process. During a Press Briefing, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for the White House, Ben Rhodes, stated “I think we felt like we made some progress with regard to Syria in that, despite the differences that we’ve had — and they continue with regard to Syria — there is the framework for cooperation through the Kofi Annan initiative, which, again, at the very least provides a framework for stopping the violence, initiating greater humanitarian access to the people of Syria, and initiating a transition in that country.” However Rhodes added that the transition “has to involve Assad leaving power.”
Today, members of the Syrian opposition met in Istanbul, including the Syrian National Council (SNC), to strengthen a unity and “hammer out their objectives.” During the gathering, Bassam Jaara, SNC member, called all the parties involved on a transition process to sign “a declaration that sets Syria’s new identity after the fall of Bashar al-Assad, a Syria that is democratic, plural, civil and guarantees equality to all the Syrian people.”
Meanwhile, Iraq hosted the Arab League summit, to discuss about agreeing on a strategy to end the Syrian ‘stalemate.’ Syria was not invited to the summit. The Arab League consensus favored a Yemeni scenario, where the President would “peacefully transfer power to his vice president until new, open elections can be held,” according to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Zebari also called the opposition for unity ”With all our respect to the Syrian opposition … the opposition should unite before anything else. The opposition should join ranks and have one vision.”
Despite the announcement that Syrian regime accepted the Peace plan, violence continued. Violence erupted near the border between Syria in Lebanon between government and it was reported that and a single mortar shell from those clashes landed 30 or 40 yards inside Lebanon. The Local Coordination Committees, an activist group that monitors the violence, mentioned that 20 people had died on Tuesday in the central town of Hama, in Damascus and Deir Ezzor,in the east.
State Secretary Hilary Clinton will go in the Middle East later this week to drive diplomatic to end Syrian conflict. Clinton will first stop in Saudi Arabia to meet Saudi King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal as well as foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia’s five Gulf Arab neighbors. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a press statement on Monday, Secretary Clinton “will discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues, including ongoing security cooperation in the region, as well as the international community’s continuing efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria.” Then, Clinton will attend to the second “Friends of Syria” summit in Istanbul on April 1st. The first summit was held in Tunis last February. Nuland said “this meeting will build upon steps that our friends, allies, and the Syrian opposition continue to take in an attempt to halt the slaughter of the Syrian people and pursue a transition to democracy in Syria.”
Syrian Ambassador Robert Ford testified at a Congressional hearing and warned that the international community should look for action, not words, from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.