Syria committed to UN peace mission
Updated: 2012-05-10 07:32
By Li Lianxing in Damascus (China Daily)
Kofi Annan says plan could be last chance to avoid civil war
Syria is fully committed to the United Nations peace mission inside the country, and is not on the fringe of civil war, a senior Syrian diplomat said.
"The more observers on the ground the better for us, because (UN-Arab League envoy) Kofi Annan will see the reality through the observer's eyes, not through some security members' eyes who want to politicize the mission," Jihad Makdissi, spokesman of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told China Daily.
Annan on Tuesday gave a briefing to the UN Security Council, saying that the six-point peace plan he has proposed could be the "last chance to avoid civil war" in Syria.
He said the violence continues in Syria, and he was particularly concerned that torture, mass arrests and other human rights violations were "intensifying".
He also told the council that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad bore the "primary responsibility" for ending the military campaign.
But Makdissi said Annan's peace plan requires a cease-fire from all sides, not just the Syrian government.
"The problem is who has leverage on those militants?" he said. "As we can only speak on behalf of the government, we will commit to the mission and hope Mr Annan will succeed because (peace) is in the interests of the Syrian government."
Makdissi said the UN Security Council is the strongest tool available to solve the crisis, and council members should be more vocal about the transfer of weapons into the country.
The biggest challenges ahead are stopping the violence and revitalizing the economy, which has been severely affected by international powers, he said.
"The sanctions actually are against the normal Syrian people rather than political pressures," he said. "For instance, the sanction of banning buying spare parts of airplanes has directly threatened the life of civilians."
If the peace plan fails, Syria will continue political reforms and let the people decide the future of the country, Makdissi said.
"Mistrust between opposition groups and the government has hindered the process," said Bassam Abu Abdallah, director of the Damascus Center for Strategic Studies.
"But all parties should prioritize the national interests at this stage," he said. "Everything is open now under the new constitution."
A roadside blast hit troops escorting UN observers in Syria's south on Wednesday.
The explosive device, apparently planted underground, wounded six Syrian soldiers escorting the convoy as it entered the city of Daraa, cradle of a 14-month uprising against Assad's government.
Major General Robert Mood, the head of the 60-strong UN mission, was in the convoy but escaped unharmed along with 11 other observers and his spokesman Neeraj Singh, said an AFP photographer traveling with them.
Adel Naise, a former provincial leader in the Baath Party, was imprisoned for 25 years after Hafez al-Assad seized power in 1971.
After the first multiparty parliamentary election in Syria in five decades, Naise, who is in his 70s, is now a top leader in an opposition coalition.
"I spent the best part of my life in the prison because of the Asaad government," he said. "Although the government mismanaged the country, it's still my homeland, and I don't have time to seek revenge."
He said a civil war could ruin the country. "The election is crucial and even if there is a little progress, it will be a big step for the system as previously the only thing people sitting in the parliament could do was applaud," he said.
Developing a new political system takes time, and reversing back to the old one will not happen because the people have been enlightened, Naise said.
"At this stage we need to find a balance between cracking down on armed opposition groups and overthrowing Bashar al-Assad's regime," he said.
"The election is normal and has relative supervision mechanisms," said Ye Hailin, a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and member of the international observation group for the parliamentary election.
"But the problem is whether an election like this can solve the current crisis," he said.
Some Arab League countries, overseas opposition groups and the West will likely reject the results of the elections, so the daily operation of the new parliament will be confronted with difficult situations.
"As long as the West doesn't recognize its efforts in political reform, the current situation will remain because international factors play a bigger role in this crisis," he said.
"It's similar to situation in Libya, where the opposition required Gadhafi to step down. But they didn't have a clear roadmap for the future of Libya, and now the country is a total mess," he added.
A consensus from the international community is vital to solving the long-standing crisis in Syria, he added.
AFP contributed to this story.