Amid renewed calls for ousting Assad, South Africa has said western powers must stop fighting for regime change in Syria and instead bat for a ‘political solution’ to the crisis.
“To achieve lasting peace in Syria, the international community must reject all calls for regime change in that country. The international community must not support external military interference or any action in Syria that is not in line with the Charter of the United Nations,” said South African President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday.
“Support for non-state actors and terrorist organisations that seek to effect a regime change in Syria is unacceptable,” he added.
US officials have reiterated their objections to Russia increasing its military presence in Syria and have expressed concern about whether Moscow is boosting support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Officially, Russia has staunchly backed Assad through the four-and-half-year Syrian war, insisting that foreign military intervention is not a solution to the crisis. Moscow, and other BRICS capitals, had warned repeatedly against the Western arming of Syrian rebel groups fighting Assad.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Zuma said the painful human tragedy of over four million Syrian refugees has been a stark reminder of the need to find a lasting solution. He was speaking at a international relations security briefing of envoys in Pretoria.
“It took the painful drowning of a four year old Syrian child to shake the world into action. Attempts to shut the borders by some European countries will not assist the situation. We pledge our support to the EU as it grapples with this challenging situation,” the President said.
Pretoria is no stranger to the complex challenges in dealing with migration and related violence.
Earlier this summer, South Africa witnessed a spurt in anti-immigration violence.
Thousands were displaced from their homes and up to five people were reported to have been killed when violence spread through the KwaZulu-Natal province in May.
Migrants from all over the world, especially African countries, have flocked to the southern African nation’s cities and towns seeking to escape the poverty and political intolerance in their home countries.
Zuma in his speech on Tuesday, referred to the violence in January and April this year, when he said “our own country was forced to confront the difficulties of migration when foreign and African nationals were attacked”.
“We have since then, been working hard with SADC sister countries to find solutions to this international challenge, especially the problem of illegal migration. South Africa experiences a mixed migration flow comprising people who are genuine asylum seekers and those who flee to the country in seek of economic relief,” he noted.
“This situation demands innovative solutions. We are partnering with SADC neighbours to ensure proactive facilitation of designated community crossing points,” he added.
The South African President also stressed that his country will work to boost south-south ties.
“Further economic cooperation in the South, will be pursued when the 3rd India-Africa Partnership Forum Summit convenes in New Delhi, India next month. In December, South Africa will host the Second Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg,” said Zuma.