In his opening remarks at talks aimed at halting the years of violence and killing in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that there is only one way for things to move forward in the war torn country. “[W]e see only one option: a negotiated transition government formed by mutual consent.”
That means, he said, Assad must go:
“We really need to deal with reality. Mutual consent, which is what has brought us here, for a transition government means that that government cannot be formed with someone that is objected to by one side or the other. That means that Bashar Assad will not be part of that transition government. There is no way – no way possible in the imagination – that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern. One man and those who have supported him can no longer hold an entire nation and a region hostage. The right to lead a country does not come from torture, nor barrel bombs, nor Scud missiles. It comes from the consent of the people. And it’s hard to imagine how that consent could be forthcoming at this point in time.”
Kerry repeated the call in the Geneva communique issued following talks in June, 2012, and called for “a peaceful roadmap for transition. And,” he added, “the only thing standing in its way is the stubborn clinging to power of one man, one family.”
Iran, which backs the Assad regime, had its short-lived invitation to the talks rescinded by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, after Tehran refused to acknowledge Assad’s departure as a precondition. According to other reports, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a statement, saying the powers that want to see Assad go are “are behind instability” in the country.
Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reportedly told a state news agency, Tuesday, that allowing the rebels to have a voice in deposing Assad “would legitimize the terrorists,” who, he claims, “are being supported by the Zionist regime of Israel and the arrogant powers and reactionary governments.”
Israel, however, while not fond of Assad, insists that they know how to deal with him, and are reluctant to deal with another new regime at its border, especially a Jihadist one. As one unnamed Israeli intelligence officer told The London Times, last spring, “Better the devil we know than the demons we can only imagine if Syria falls into chaos, and the extremists from across the Arab world gain a foothold there.”
Despite Kerry’s stated hopes for “a resolution that can provide peace to the region and peace to the people of Syria,” Israeli Defense Forces say they believe the U.S. and her European allies know better. “The West has come to the realization,” one IDF official told a regional news site, “that the alternative to Assad is worse.”