Last updated: 14 May, 2013

Arabs and Turkey see no role for Assad in future Syria

Five Arab countries and Turkey have reiterated that President Bashar al-Assad should have no role in the future of Syria, as Russia and the United States proposed a peace conference.

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as that of Turkey — all supporters of the Syrian opposition — expressed their stand at a meeting late Monday in Abu Dhabi, Emirati news agency WAM said.

The ministers backed a June 2012 Geneva plan for a transitional government in Syria as long as “it takes in consideration that president Assad and his aides with blood-stained hands would have no place in Syria’s future,” WAM said.

The ministers “reiterated their support for a political solution to end the bloodshed in Syria, pointing out that the Syrian regime is the one preventing that,” WAM said.

The stand by the five Arab nations and Turkey comes as Russia, which is a strong ally of Assad’s regime, and the United States, proposed a peace conference to push Damascus and the rebels to hold talks.

The acting head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, George Sabra, said on Monday that the group will consult with its backers Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey before it decides whether to take part in the conference.

Riyadh and Doha are the Syrian opposition’s main backers, providing it with money and light and medium weapons.

The Coalition said Sunday that it will discuss on May 23 the US-Russian proposed conference which aims to reach a political solution for a conflict that has left more than 80,000 people dead in just over two years.

The ministers reiterated their support for the coalition as “sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people” welcoming plans to widen the umbrella group to include more opponents.

They also urged the international community to act to prevent the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, after “strong indications that the regime has used chemical weapons” WAM said.

They stressed the need for the international community to share with the neighbours of Syria in carrying the “burden of dealing with the miserable humanitarian situation” of the Syrian refugees.

More than 1.4 million Syrians have fled their country, while a total of 4.25 million have been displaced, according to UN figures.