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

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Nigerian Islamic School Tries to Combat Boko Haram

Kaduna school headmaster teaches his students that what militants are doing is are doing is 'a total misunderstanding of the Islamic religion' More

University Trains Students to Advocate for Deaf People Worldwide

Program prepares graduates to advocate internationally for access to education, jobs for people with disabilities 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid