UN-led Action Group urges peaceful democratic transition in Syria but leaves Assad’s fate open

UN Photo/David Manyua

Top United Nations and foreign officials met in Geneva on Saturday to present a plan for a peaceful democratic transition in Syria that they hope would end the escalating violence. 

Read more: UN Human Rights Council reports ‘quickly deteriorating’ conditions in Syria

“Everyone here is gravely alarmed at the situation in Syria. We strongly condemn the continued and escalating killing, destruction and human rights abuses,” said U.N. Special Envy Kofi Annan. “Today the international community has taken its cooperation to a stronger level, by being clearer and more specific. They have laid out a path that we hope the Syrian people can embrace and work with.”

The U.N.-backed Action Group called for a “Syrian led-political process leading to a transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future.”

The group’s five-page plan, however, left out any explicit demand for President Bashar al Assad to step down – an omission likely due to the influence of Russia and China, both of which are allies of Syria.

But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton insisted that the plan would pave the way for a post-Assad future.

“Assad will still have to go. He will never pass the mutual consent test, given the blood on his hands,” said Clinton. “As long as Assad continues to wage war against the Syrian people – and he himself now calls this a war – the international community must keep ratcheting up the pressure on the regime to halt the violence…We and our partners made absolutely clear to Russia and China that it is now incumbent upon them to show Assad the writing on the wall.”

The U.N. estimated that more than 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since the ‘Arab Spring’-inspired pro-democracy movement began in March 2011 when demonstrators took to the streets to protest Assad’s brutal and oppressive regime.

Violence has worsened since the U.N.-brokered cease-fire broke down last month, and the U.N. Human Rights Council reported the intensification of military attacks against civilians.

In a speech to his cabinet last week, Assad declared that Syria was in a “state of war” and called on his government to direct all resources to “winning this war.”

Read more: NATO condemns Syria’s attack on Turkish aircraft

Clinton warned that the conflict in Syria could destabilize its neighboring countries in the Middle East.

“If Syria spirals further into civil war, not only will more civilians die, not only will more refugees stream across the borders, but instability will most certainly spill into neighboring states,” she said. “The stakes of inaction by the international community are just too high.”

 

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