Annan and Assad Meet in Damascus
U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Kofi Annan met with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad today, and later announced that the two had devised a new approach to ending the conflict, although he is not disclosing details yet; this came after Annan openly acknowledged that his peace plan had failed in an interview with Le Monde published over the weekend. The Daily Star published an editorial today highlighting the fact that Annan is just now admitting what the rest of the world had already concluded, and urges the international community to take new, harsher measures against the regime. In an interview on German television, Assad declared that the public supports his government, and for that reason he would continue to lead Syria; he also accused the U.S. of supporting “gangs” which are destabilizing the country. An editorial in Al-Akhbar examines an email, released by Wikileaks, that was forwarded among Syrian government figures and which contains a memo authored by public relations firm Brown Lloyd James.
Meanwhile, in response to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s command that Russia and China “get off the sidelines,” Representative John McCain admonished the Clinton and the Obama administration themselves to get off the sidelines. “How many times has Secretary Clinton said that in the last 14 months?” he asked, “and by the way, when was the last time the president…stood up and said we are with these people?”
Russia is hosting Syrian dissident Michel Kilo today, and on Wednesday will host the new head of the Syrian National Council, Abdul Basset Sayda. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that Russia is perhaps the only country talking to both the Syrian government and the opposition. Kilo said, however, that while he wanted to have a dialogue with the government, “the regime…is not replying to our demands and is saying that we are not representatives of the Syrian people.” Russia also announced today that it is delaying the sale of fighter jets to Syria while the situation there remains “unresolved.”