British Minister of State: We Cannot Prevent Assad's Election

Robertson says the results of the election are well known by all

The British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Hugh Robertson said in an interview with al-Hayat that Western countries cannot prevent the presidential elections in Syria.

 

Robertson said the that the results of this "fake election" are well-known; the victory of President Bashar Assad.

 

"But they will never give him legitimacy in the eyes of the international community," Robertson said.

 

Robertson was speaking to al-Hayat in his office at the British Foreign ministry.

 

He said military experts are periodically evaluating the situation on the ground, including the control of regime forces backed by Hezbollah on the city of Yabroud in the north of Damascus in Qalamoon near the border with Lebanon. 

 

He also explained that while London's refusal to provide military aid to the opposition is a "natural result" of the vote in the House of Commons last year against military intervention in Syria, "we provided the largest possible support of non-lethal aid to the opposition, with a value of more than 20 million Pounds, in addition to the 600 million Pounds previously pledged."

 

"The support stopped last December because of the control of the Islamists on the headquarters of the Free Army. We are currently looking for a way to increase support to the opposition," he said. 

 

Regarding the fall of Yabroud, Roberston said "it is an exaggeration to say that Yabroud fell due to opposition's lack of adequate support and put all the blame on us."

 

"We are informed that the opposition needs support more than signals and words to make progress," he said, pointing out that other countries in the Group of London, which includes 11 states of the Friends of Syria, provide military support for the opposition.

 

"There are fears among Western nations of dropping the weapons in the hands of extremists. But it is not right to say that we exert pressure for the non-delivery of weapons to the moderate opposition. But we always emphasize the need to prevent delivery of these weapons to the extremists".

 

Asked about the presidential election, Roberston replied: "We all know the outcome of the elections. We knew Syria before the crisis, we always knew that the result of any election is Assad win s99 percent of the votes. I am sure that this will be the result in the upcoming elections".

 

"We cannot stop Assad from the elections. We said that the elections were rigged. But we cannot stop it in a tangible form. They will not mean much at all and will never give him legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. When elections are held, they will be held without meaning,"

 

"I would have preferred it be delayed so that the parties go to Geneva to negotiate on the formation of a mutually acceptable transitional government. If they were serious to make it happen, and I hope that all be serious, the elections will not lead to any progress in the formation of the transitional body.But the election is the tactic of the regime to delay the formation of the transitional authority,"

 

"We prefer not to hold elections. We want all parties involved in the body. One of the problems in Geneva II was that the opposition was constructive and engaged in a serious negotiation, while the representatives of the regime were not serious and only wanted to talk about terrorism and avoided to negotiate a transitional government. If the regime thinks he will get legitimacy by the elections, he is wrong."

 

In response to a question that he spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome a few days ago about the elections in Syria, Roberston said that the view was that "the election is not useful for the Geneva process, and must be abandoned. But we cannot actually prevent the elections. If there was a button to press to stop the elections we would have pressed it. But all we can do is increase the pressure Assad to give them up and keep track of Geneva". 

 

The British minister rejected the proposition that there is a direct relationship between the elections in the current circumstances and "dividing Syria politically and geographically".

 

When asked about reports saying that the increase in terrorism in Syria could lead to more support for the regime, Robertson replied: "This will not lead to a change in the policy of Western countries. The trend has not changed at all. Assad delivers explosive barrels at people and kill civilians, and, according to my opinion and the opinion of the governments he is a man who has lost legitimacy to rule Syria a long time ago. He should step down and a transitional government should replace him. One of the results because of him, is the advent of the Jihadists to Syria and Jihadists from Britain went to fight his troops."

 

Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer

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