Syria: U.S. presses for opposition dialogue with Assad

The Guardian reports:

The US is pushing the Syrian opposition to maintain dialogue with Bashar al-Assad’s regime as details emerge of a controversial “roadmap” for reforms that would leave him in power for now despite demands for his overthrow during the country’s bloody three-month uprising.

Syrian opposition sources say US state department officials have been discreetly encouraging discussion of the unpublished draft document, which circulated at an unprecedented opposition conference held on Monday in Damascus. But Washington denies backing it.

Assad would oversee what the roadmap calls “a secure and peaceful transition to civil democracy”. It calls for tighter control over the security forces, the disbanding of “shabiha” gangs accused of atrocities, the legal right to peaceful demonstrations, extensive media freedoms, and the appointment of a transitional assembly.

The carefully phrased 3,000-word document demands a “clear and frank apology” and accountability for organisations and individuals who “failed to accommodate legitimate protests”, and compensation for the families of victims. The opposition says 1,400 people have been killed since mid-March. The government says 500 members of the security forces have died.

It calls for the ruling Ba’ath party to be subject to a new law on political parties – though the party would still provide 30 of 100 members for a proposed transitional national assembly. Seventy others would be appointed by the president in consultation with opposition nominees.

Several of the proposed measures have already been mentioned in public by Assad, fuelling speculation that he is at least partially following through on some of the document’s recommendations.

The roadmap is signed by Louay Hussein and Maan Abdelsalam, leading secular intellectuals in a group called the National Action Committee. Both men met the vice-president, Farouk al-Sharaa, before Assad’s most recent speech, diplomats said. On Monday they chaired the Damascus conference, which had official permission, was attended by 150 people – and was publicly welcomed by the US.

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One thought on “Syria: U.S. presses for opposition dialogue with Assad

  1. dmaak112

    July 1 march in Hama shows the bias that the Western media have for the Syrian Arab Spring. News reports repeated the number of 100,000 marchers as gospel. Included in the story, it was noted that the security personnel had withdrawn from the city as well as the surrounding area. Here are but a few points that the US/EU media skipped over. First, they took at face value the number of 100,000 marchers. No independent source could confirm the actual number. Two, Hama was and remains one of the centers of the Muslim Brotherhood, being the battleground of the revolt in 1982. Yet only “100,000” marchers came out to demonstrate their hatred for Bashar Assad. Three, with no security police or soldiers to stop them, only “100,000” marchers assembled. Four, if a small percent of the population–5 to 10%–oppose Assad, does that mean any country that has 10% of its people dissatisfied with the government has a right to overthrow it? Yes, the Syrian government is a dictatorship (name one that has a democratically elected one?). Yes, many innocent people were killed (how many did the US kill in Iraq?). Yes, all people are deserving of freely electing their government–even the Palestinians. But the one sided reporting of the turmoil needs to be redressed, NOW. Such reporting only heightens tensions and makes compromise that more difficult.

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