West Pushes to Separate Assad From Regime in Political Settlement

Diplomats suggest separation of Assad and Syria's state institutions in the context of a political settlement will help avoid a repeat of the ‘Iraqi scenario'

The Syrian crisis topped the list of political priorities in New York during preparations for the meetings of the United Nations General Assembly, which kicks off this month as Western countries seek to create a separation between President Bashar al-Assad and his regime in Syria.

The concept stresses the need "to refuse to deal with Assad, but he should be separated from the state institutions" in order to avoid any repeat of the ‘Iraqi scenario,’ in reference to the disbandment of the Iraqi army and government following the American invasion in 2003.

A European diplomat at the UN Security Council said there is a need to emphasize the importance of "the involvement of Russia" in efforts for a political solution. The diplomat said Russia's direct military intervention in Syria is "to protect Russia's strategic interests in this part of the country (the Syrian coast), but also an attempt to have a decisive role in the political solution."

The diplomat noted that direct Russian intervention in Syria "may also mean that Russians are serious in their commitment to a political solution, and their direct involvement in the Syrian crisis does suggest that the political solution is dead."

The European diplomat stressed that his country is still committed to refusing any cooperation with Assad and remains in opposition to the Russian initiative, which wishes to consider Assad a partner in the fight against terrorism.

"Assad and ISIS are two sides of the same coin. Actually, ISIS is the direct product of the criminality of Bashar al-Assad and his regime. The cooperation with Assad is not just morally wrong, it is also a big political mistake because it will push all those who fought Assad in the past years to stand either with Assad or with ISIS, and this may lead the Sunnis in Syria to choose ISIS, and this would be a serious mistake", the diplomat explained.

The diplomat referred to "the dangerous repetition of the Iraqi scenario in Syria," considering the dismissal of the Iraqi army and government institutions. "This would open the door to extremism and lead to the strengthening of ISIS and similar organizations. This underlines the need for figures from within the regime to be present in the political solution," the diplomat added.

The foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council will hold a meeting with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura during the upcoming meeting of the UN General Assembly.

A diplomatic source said that de Mistura will brief the meeting on the outcome of his recent consultations, including his visit to Syria, and his vision of how and when to launch the work of the joint-working committees he proposed.

In a related development, France is working on the marketing of a draft resolution at the Security Council prohibiting the use of barrel bombs in Syria, but its efforts are still met with Russian rejection. A European diplomat recently described barrel bombs as "the most lethal weapon in the bloodiest conflict in the 21st century, and should be banned."

The diplomat expected that the draft resolution would be discussed after the end of the month, in which Russia occupies the rotating presidency of the Security Council, referring to the American support to the draft resolution. "Work goes on vigorously to reach an agreement with Russia regarding the draft resolution," the diplomat concluded.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer

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