UK defense secretary says no future for Assad

Michael Fallon
Michael Fallon

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Friday that the UK does not “see a long-term future in Syria for (Syrian President Bashar) Assad.”

However, the White House said that the US must accept the political reality that the future of Assad is up to the Syrian people and the US focus in the region must be on defeating Daesh militants.

“With respect to Assad, there is a political reality that we have to accept in terms of where we are right now. We lost a lot of opportunity in the last administration with respect to Assad,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a news briefing.

Meanwhile, the UN envoy for Syria wrapped up a fifth round of talks between opposition leaders and the government Friday, pointing to “incremental” progress while acknowledging no peace deal is foreseeable as the country enters its seventh year of war.

Negotiators from the Syrian regime and opposition traded insults, calling each other “terrorists” and “adolescents” after the eight-day round of talks. The two sides do not meet but negotiate via UN mediator Staffan de Mistura, saving their liveliest invective for the TV cameras after each meeting with him.

Opposition negotiator Nasr Al-Hariri said the “terrorist regime” of Assad had refused to discuss political transition during the talks and said Assad was a war criminal who must step down in the name of peace.

“They are solely discussing their empty rhetoric about countering terrorism,” Al-Hariri told reporters, vowing there could be “no peace without justice.”

“War crimes and crimes against humanity must not be an option for negotiations. From now, venues must be found for transitional justice to ensure holding the perpetrators accountable,” he said.

Al-Hariri said he was looking for a negotiating partner who put the interests of the Syrian people first, while his opposite number, the government’s chief negotiator, Bashar Al-Jaafari, said he only wanted to negotiate with someone “patriotic.”

Al-Jaafari mocked the opposition delegation as “adolescents” who thought they were appearing on a television talent show such as “Arab Idol” or “The Voice,” and were under the illusion that government would simply hand over the keys to the country.

“In fact they are tools, they are mercenaries in the hands of their lords, their operators, and it seems they have not received instructions from them, except instructions to continue supporting terrorism and to create havoc in these rounds.”


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