Last updated: 5 July, 2012

Yemen-style power transfer unlikely in Syria, says Iraq’s Foreign Minister

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Thursday that a Yemen-style power transfer was unlikely in Syria because its President Bashar al-Assad would refuse to step down.

“Personally I think the Yemeni model would not succeed in Syria. In Yemen, there were supporters of that model, but it is not the case in Syria,” Zebari told reporters.

“I do not think the Syrian president would simply give up power despite increasing pressure,” he said.

Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power in Sanaa since 1978, stepped down in February and handed over to his deputy Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi under a power transfer deal brokered by Gulf Arab states after months of deadly anti-regime protests.

Russia on Wednesday denied holding talks with the United States about offering Assad exile as a way out of 16 months of bloodshed, which monitors say has claimed more than 16,500 lives.

Zebari said the violence in Syria was in partly being fuelled by Al-Qaeda militants infiltrating from Iraq.

“We have warned the Syrian regime about this for a long time. Al-Qaeda militants used to come from Syria to carry out attacks in Iraq. Now it’s the opposite,” he said.

Syria, which shares a 600-kilometre (370-mile) border with Iraq, has repeatedly blamed the violence on foreign-backed groups.