Western press reports Wednesday said G8 leaders meeting in Northern Ireland this week agreed that members of President Bashar Assad's inner circle would be allowed to keep a role in the new Syria, in an attempt to encourage a coup against the dictator.
The British newspaper, The Times of London reported that the G8 leaders attending the summit promised that senior figures in the military, security services, and government would maintain a role even after Assad had gone.
The commitment was an attempt, in part, to learn from lessons in Iraq, where the swift disbanding of Saddam Hussein’s military and political apparatus triggered violent sectarian conflict lasting years.
But it was also designed, it said, to encourage those close to the dictator to distance themselves from him.
The U.S. and its European and Gulf allies have made repeated demands that Assad step down, and predicted the downfall several times since the outbreak of the uprising in the country two years ago. But recent gains made by government troops on the battlefield against opposition forces have made Assad's imminent fall seem less likely.
The Times newspaper said the agreement is considered in the context of mistakes made as part of Western intervention in Iraq, which saw widespread sectarian strife following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and all his military aides. But, it said, the agreement will also encourage dissent among those close to Assad.
Translated and edited by the Syrian Observer