Turkey continues to demand Assad’s removal

Turkey’s prime minister has dismissed any attempt at ending the Syrian war that does not include the removal of the country’s President Bashar Assad.


Ahmet Davutoglu (above) commented after the UN Security Council agreed on a draft text for a peace process to end the conflict.

“Such resolutions have never helped solving or sorting out the Syrian problems and Assad is still there,” Davutoglu said, adding that his country would work towards bringing democracy to Syria.
Turkey-Russia relations souring over Syria conflict
“The longer Assad is there, there will be more chaos … all countries must know Assad is not serving their interests.”

During talks in New York on Friday, world leaders agreed on a draft process to bring an end to hostilities between Syrian rebels and Assad.

The plan outlined by US Secretary of State John Kerry aims to put into place a transitional government within six months and have elections within a year and a half. The plan, however, does not tackle some of the obstacles diplomats are facing in bringing the two sides to the negotiating table, namely the fate of Assad and which opposition groups will be included in the peace process. Turkey and US President Barack Obama have ruled out any solution that does not involve the removal of Assad, a position shared by the Syrian opposition.

Assad’s ally Iran, on the other hand, has refused talks with any group it considers terrorist including the Ahrar al-Sham faction, which it describes as a terrorist organisation.

Two other factions – the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group – will be excluded from the talks.
UN Security Council agrees on Syria peace plan
ISIL controls nearly all of Syria’s eastern half, which is mostly made up of desert but also includes several urban centres, such as the city of Raqqa.

Ghanbar Naderi, editor of the conservative Kayhan newspaper, said Assad’s fate was not a red line for Iran.

“Iran doesn’t have a love affair with President Assad. What Iran is concerned about is what the people of Syria want,” he told Al Jazeera.

“I think we should understand that… President Assad is not going to be there forever.” March 2016 marks five years since the first protest against Assad’s rule and the brutal crackdown that led to the war.

The conflict in Syria has killed upwards of 300,000 people and displaced millions more, creating the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.

The breakdown in order has allowed groups like ISIL to take advantage and seize huge tracts of territory in the country, from which they have planned and launched attacks on countries including Turkey, Lebanon and France. A number of states are conducting military campaigns in Syria against ISIL.

This article was originally published by Al Jazeera

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