News / Middle East

Syrian Dismissal Seen as 'Jockeying' Ahead of Peace Talks

Former Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil
Former Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil
The dismissal of Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister, Qadri Jamil on Tuesday appears to be part of complex maneuvering ahead of the “Geneva 2” peace talks the U.S. and Russia are proposing for next month, say analysts and rebel leaders.
 
Jamil's dismissal was announced on Syrian state television just days after he met with a senior U.S. envoy in Geneva.  It prompted immediate speculation of serious divisions within the Syrian government over the peace talks being pressed by Washington and Moscow on Bashar al-Assad and rebels seeking to oust him.
 
According to state television, Jamil, a Moscow-educated economist, was dismissed because he was absent from work “without prior permission and did not follow up on his duties ... Additionally, he undertook activities outside the nation without coordinating with the government.”
 
Those activities, U.S. officials confirmed, included a meeting in Switzerland last Saturday with President Obama’s ambassador to Syria Robert S. Ford, who has been at the forefront of Western efforts to cajole the warring sides to attend stalled peace talks in Geneva scheduled for November 23-24.
 
The announcement of the sacking came shortly after Jamil told Russian media he had met with Ford. 
 
A State Department spokeswoman played down the significance of the meeting between Ambassador Ford and Jamil, saying Obama’s envoy is meeting with “a long list” of people connected to the Syrian government to discuss Geneva 2.  The Reuters news agency quoted a "Middle East official" as saying that Jamil came up with “unworkable proposals,” which included having the “U.S. include him with the opposition in the Geneva talks.”
 
Pre-talks jockeying by Assad and rebels
 
The private intelligence outfit Stratfor alerted commercial clients that Jamil’s dismissal “might indicate signs of fracturing and disunity within the regime.”
 
But Syria expert Joshua Landis, the director of the Center of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma, argues the firing is linked to pre-talks jockeying by the government and rebels. He argues the dismissal may well be a preemptive move by Assad to ensure Washington had no thoughts of earmarking the 61-year-old economist as a possible successor.
 
“Assad is not going to allow a foreign government to name his successor or a transitional head,” says Landis. “He is determined to remain President of Syria and was probably fearful that the West is looking for a figurehead who can replace him in some transitional government.”
 
Landis, the editor of the influential “Syria Comment” blog, compares Jamil’s sacking to the fate of a prominent Alawi politician Abdel-Aziz al-Khair, who held discussions in September 2012 with foreign officials about political options to end the war. “Al-Khair traveled to Russia and China, where he seemed to be a possible candidate for a transitional government. When he returned to Syria, he was promptly arrested, not to be heard from again,” says Landis.
 
No signs of split in Assad regime
 
Jamil is a member of the so-called patriotic opposition -- critics and political parties opposed to Assad who have refused to join the armed uprising. After parliamentary elections in 2012 -- polls that Jamil denounced as “manipulated” -- he agreed along with another Assad opponent tolerated by the regime to enter the Syrian government, taking the economic affairs portfolio. Assad officials trumpeted his acceptance of the post as evidence of their willingness to reform. 
 
David Schenker a fellow at The Washington Institute, a U.S.-based public policy think tank and formerly the Pentagon's top policy official on the Arab countries of the Levant, says, because “Qadri wasn’t a member of the ruling Ba'ath party and not a regime insider” it is hard to reach the conclusion that his firing is a sign of a significant split within the Assad government.
 
The Obama administration and Russia are having a difficult time reviving Syrian peace talks. The Assad government says it won’t negotiate with those engaged in fighting and the main Western and Gulf-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, refuses to attend the Geneva 2 process while Assad remains President. The SNC says it only prepared to talk about a political transition when Assad departs power.
 
Rebels warn political opposition against compromise
 
Just a few days ago a recently formed hardline Islamist coalition of rebel groups – including some of the biggest armed brigades – warned the SNC not to backtrack, saying it would consider any who engaged in negotiations with the Assad regime as traitors liable to be hauled before Islamic sharia courts for punishment.
 
SNC leaders spy a more sinister motive behind Jamil’s dismissal, arguing it is a fake sacking. They maintain it is part of a cynical Assad gambit to boost Jamil’s credentials as an opponent of the regime thereby tricking the U.S. to accept him as a credible participant in the talks.
 
“Jamil is an integral part of the structure of the regime,” says the official spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition, Louay Safi. He claims the Assad regime is trying to engineer a situation where in the absence of the rebels at any Geneva talks “the government can in effect negotiate with itself. “
 
In an interview with Russian television Tuesday, Jamil argued the “internal opposition” had every right to be a participant in peace talks and that his readiness to negotiate “shows that Geneva 2 is going forward.” He said “impossible conditions” for talks shouldn’t be imposed – a reference to his position that rebels shouldn’t be demanding Assad steps down before they negotiate.
 
Speaking to the Lebanese television station, Al Mayadeen, Jamil cautioned, “the idea of Assad stepping down is out of the question.”

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid