Middle East

Syria says envoy can only succeed if rebels lose outside support

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi speaks during a press conference under a in Damascus on September 3, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/HO/SANA)

BEIRUT: Syria said Monday new U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi could only make headway if outside countries ceased helping rebels opposed to President Bashar Assad and instead declared support for a U.N.-backed peace plan.

Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, has picked up the baton from former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, who drew up the six-point plan for Syria, but a ceasefire he declared on April 12 failed to take hold. Violence has worsened since then.

"The conditions for success for Lakhdar Brahimi in his mission is for specific countries - Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - to announce their commitment to the six-point plan and completely stop sending weapons (to rebels) and close borders to fighters and close fighter training camps," Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi told a news conference in Damascus.

"The ball is not in the Syrian court, the ball is in the Saudi, Qatari, Turkish, European and U.S. court," he said.

Damascus verbally accepted Annan's plan in April, but failed to implement its main call for an end to violence and a pullout of Syrian troops and heavy weapons from towns and cities.

Syria has long accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of supporting rebels during the 17-month-old anti-Assad uprising and says neighboring Turkey allows fighters to train on its soil.

Brahimi told the BBC in an interview broadcast on Monday that diplomatic attempts to end the conflict were "nearly impossible."

Annan, his predecessor, resigned as U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria last month after blaming "finger-pointing and name-calling" at the U.N. Security Council for hampering his efforts.

More than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria since protests against Assad's rule first erupted in March 2011.

Zoabi also took aim at newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, who said last week that solidarity with the Syrian people "against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is an ethical duty" and a strategic necessity.

"After (President Hosni) Mubarak fled and his place was filled with another president, the only difference between him and Mubarak was his beard," Zoabi said, adding that Mursi was supporting Israel and had not helped the Palestinian cause.

"Spilt Syrian blood is the responsibility of Mohamed Mursi and those like him because he sends weapons and money and (provides) political support (to the rebels)."





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