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Window for Assad’s safe exit closing

FILE - In this Monday, June 20, 2011 file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad delivers a speech in Damascus, Syria, at Damascus University. (AP Photo/SANA, File)

More Western countries will soon recognize the newly formed National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, western officials told The Daily Star, suggesting that as Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime crumbles, the newly unified opposition will gain further acceptance.

The Arab countries who are assumed to be arming the opposition will continue to do so, while the West will continue its political and diplomatic support. Western officials say that their countries are waiting for further assurances from the opposition that rebel extremists will not gain power. They add that they need more time to trust the opposition enough to arm them with heavy weaponry.

According to these officials, the upcoming recognition of the opposition by additional Western countries and the United Nations will back the Syrian regime into a corner.

Assad will no longer have room to maneuver a safe exit for himself and his family, nor will he be able to guarantee the safety of the Alawites.

Offers securing Assad and the Alawites a safe way out of the conflict that were in place months ago will no longer be applicable in this new atmosphere, and the community could become a target of violence.

As for Lebanon’s political crisis, Western officials say that a comprehensive agreement to end the deadlock will require a halt to all types of Lebanese intervention in Syria. Such an agreement should also include a strong campaign to bring the perpetrators of violence inside Lebanon to justice, and the establishment of a new technocratic government similar to the one established in 2005 after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The officials added that they understood from Lebanese Interior Ministry sources that the parliamentary elections were likely to be postponed for at least a year, pending regional developments.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 28, 2012, on page 3.

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