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Syria: Istanbul summit, “transition strategy” – New sanctions. Involve Russia not Iran, says Terzi

Something has shifted on the diplomatic front with regard to the Syrian crisis. Today’s meeting of the Friends of Syria in Istanbul produced a “transition strategy” backed by new sanctions and the involvement of Russia (but not Iran) in stopping the ongoing bloodbath in that Arab country.

While the Russian-Chinese summit in Beijing announced its proposal for an international conference to ensure implementation of the Annan plan, the opposition accused the regime of another massacre of civilians, possibly hundreds. “The strategy chosen by Damascus risks leading to genocide if intervention is not rapid”, warned Terzi, who was present at the meeting in Istanbul along with the U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and the foreign ministers of France, Germany, the UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and Qatar.

Next summit in France

France announced it would host the next summit on 6 July in Paris. A military intervention, based on the UN-mandated on in Libya, appears to have been ruled out for the time being. But the U.S. and the Arab League are pressing the UN to issue a new set of sanctions against the Assad regime in keeping with Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter. The Arab League made a formal proposal to that effect specifying that military action be ruled out for the moment.

Something has also changed in Moscow’s strategy. Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov made it known for the first time that Moscow had “never said” that Assad “had to necessarily remain in power until the end of the political process”. A clear appeal came from the Istanbul summit – called by Turkey on Italy’s urging – for Russia’s involvement, which Terzi described as “an essential partner”, citing “signs that Moscow’s support for the Assad regime is not a foregone conclusion”. The countries participating in the summit decided to form a “coordination group” to work on how to end the crisis, the launch of a transitional process and support for the opposition.


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