U.S. tells G8 Syria´s Assad must go, cites Yemen as model (REUTERS) By Jeff Mason CAMP DAVID, Maryland 05/19/12 7:47pm EDT)
Reuters News Service
Reuters News Service Articles-Index-Top
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama told G8 leaders meeting at Camp
David that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave power, and
pointed to Yemen as a model of how political transition could work
there, the White House said on Saturday.
The Group of Eight
leaders, in a statement summing up their
discussions, urged all parties in Syria to adhere to their
commitments under a joint U.N.-Arab League peace plan "including
immediately ceasing all violence so as to enable a Syrian-led,
inclusive political transition leading to a democratic, plural
Ben Rhodes, an Obama deputy national security
adviser, said the
recent focus on securing access for U.N. monitors and keeping track
of ceasefires had distracted from the fundamental problems in Syria,
where Assad, whose father ruled the country before him, has been
attacking protesters for 14 months.
The United Nations estimates
some 9,000 people have been killed in
Syria since the start of the uprising in March 2011, when unrest that
toppled leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere was spreading across
Washington´s patience with Assad has been wearing
thin. Assad said he
would adhere to a U.N.-Arab League peace plan but has failed to bring
violence to a full halt, blaming "terrorists" for recent attacks in
Damascus and elsewhere.
"It is our assessment that you are not
going to be able to solve this
problem just with monitors and ceasefires, that you need to have a
political process under way that is responsive to the Syrian people,
because otherwise you are not going to solve the problem," Rhodes
He said the G8 leaders - from Britain, France, Germany,
Russia and Canada, plus the United States, which is hosting the
summit - discussed during their dinner on Friday how a political
transition could take place in Syria.
" We remain appalled by
the loss of life, humanitarian crisis, and
serious and widespread human rights abuses in Syria," the G8
statement said. "Use of force endangering the lives of civilians must
Alone among the eight, Russia has supported Assad and
"Some may like or dislike the Syrian government,
some may have
different views on the last election which took place in Syria but
one cannot avoid a question - if Assad goes, who will replace him?"
said Mikhail Margelov, a Russian parliamentarian and aide to Prime
Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
"We believe that the Syrian crisis
cannot be dealt with an ax. One
should work on it with a pair of pincers," he said.
statement said the leaders welcomed the deployment of the U.N.
mission "and urge all parties, in particular the Syrian government,
to fully cooperate with the mission. We strongly condemn recent
terrorist attacks in Syria."
Obama brought up Yemen as an
example of a leader departing power
peacefully and ushering in a democratic process, Rhodes said. "Our
point was that we need to see political transition under way that
brings real change to Syria," he said.
"We believe that change
has to include Bashar al-Assad leaving power.
And unless you begin the process of a political transition of some
sort, you are not going to be able to deal with reducing the violence
and addressing the grievances of the people who came out in the
street to start with," Rhodes said.
Former Yemeni President Ali
Abdullah Saleh ruled the poor Gulf nation
for 33 years and was unseated after an uprising last year that split
the country´s armed forces into warring factions.
granted immunity from prosecution over the killing of
protesters as part of power transfer deal that eased him out of
office. Many Yemenis believe Saleh ought to have been put on trial;
rights groups say hundreds of protesters were killed by his security
forces in the revolt.
U.N. Security General Ban Ki-moon said
this month there was only a
narrow window of opportunity to avert full-scale civil war in Syria,
which borders Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Iraq and Lebanon. The country´s
23 million people comprise a mix of sects and ethnic groups whose
tensions could resonate in the region.
(Additional reporting by
Gleb Bryanski. Writing by Laura MacInnis;
editing by Warren Strobel, Christopher Wilson and Vicki Allen) (©
Thomson Reuters 2012. 05/19/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY