A UN-Arab League convoy is to arrive in the Syrian capital to push for an end to the violence that has wracked the nation for almost a year. However, opposition refusal to open dialogue with President Assad has cast doubt over the diplomatic mission.
Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, is due to meet with President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday with a view to setting in motion a “political process” to curb spiraling violence and prevent further militarization of the conflict.
Dr. Burhan Ghalioun, the Paris-based chairman of the opposition group the Syrian National Council, said on Friday that dialogue with Assad was out of the question while Syrians were being massacred every day. He called Kofi Annan’s stance “disappointing” and said that no solution to the conflict would be effective if not “accompanied by military intervention.”
“He may have success in Syria, but the people outside don’t want to see him succeed; they want to see his mission aborted,” Mark Almond a visiting professor at Turkey’s Bilkent university told RT regarding Annan’s visit.
“The opposition in Paris doesn’t want to talk. I suspect they fear that if there were talks, if there was to be representation gathered together from across Syria they wouldn’t necessarily be a majority,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to meet with Arab League officials in Cairo on Saturday to discuss a political solution to the conflict. Russia favors the creation of humanitarian corridors in Syria, but opposes any type of military intervention from foreign powers.
Russia previously vetoed Security Council resolutions along with China, saying they made too few demands on armed opposition forces.
The US has decried Russia’s stance and has upped the pressure on the government to vote in favor of a resolution.Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that she hopes Lavrov’s meeting in Cairo would bring Russia on board and that it would “play a constructive role in ending the bloodshed and working toward a political transition in Syria.”
Clinton will meet with Lavrov on Monday to discuss the conflict at a UN Security Council conference.
Cracks appearing in Assad regime?
Syrian activist group Local Coordination Committees reports that 82 people had been killed across Syria on Friday in nationwide violence.
This total has not been confirmed by international community.
Meanwhile, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency has said 234 Syrians have fled into Turkey since Thursday adding to the 10,000 strong refugee camps in Turkey’s southern province Hatay.
This follows the defection of Syrian Deputy Oil Minister Abdo Hussameldin on Thursday with several military leaders following suit yesterday.
The White House has greeted the defection with enthusiasm, signaling them as a sign that the Assad regime is cracking up from within and will eventually fall.