News / Middle East

World Powers Agree on Syria Transition

Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria Kofi Annan gestures during a news conference after the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, June 30, 2012.
Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria Kofi Annan gestures during a news conference after the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, June 30, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA – The United States, Russia and other world leaders have agreed on a plan for a transitional government of national unity in Syria that they hope will pave the way for an end to the violence that has killed more than 15,000 people during the 16-month uprising.  The plan, drafted by International Envoy Kofi Annan, lays out a number of steps that, if followed, could lead to the Syrian people democratically determining their own future.  But it also leaves open the question of whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can be part of the transitional government.  Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from the site of the ministerial meeting in Geneva.

Introducing the plan, Annan said he hopes it will launch a Syrian-led political process that ultimately will enable the Syrian people to democratically determine their own future.

Kofi Annan's Six-Point Peace Plan
 
  • A Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.
  • A U.N. supervised end to armed violence by all parties in Syria.
  • Timely humanitarian assistance in all areas affected by fighting.
  • Increasing the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained people.
  • Ensuring freedom of movement for journalists.
  • Respecting freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.
The plan grants full executive powers to the transitional governing body.  Both members of the government and opposition are to be included in the body.  Annan says the Action Group has drawn up guidelines, which are meant to be helpful to the Syrian people.  

He said it is for the Syrians, themselves, not the international community, to determine the future of the country.  When given the opportunity, he says he believes the Syrian people will choose their leader wisely.    

“I think people who have blood on their hands hopefully are not the only people in Syria. I think the Government will have to be formed through discussion, negotiations, and by mutual consent. And I will doubt that the Syrians - who have fought so hard for their independence, to be able to have a say in how they are governed and who governs them - will select people with blood on their hands to lead them.”  

The plan does not mention Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by name nor indicate what, if any, role he will have to play in the new national government of unity.  This verbal compromise deftly avoided a showdown between the United States and Russia, who do not see eye to eye as to whether Assad should remain in power.  

US

Despite this, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said the change in the revised text will make no difference.

“Assad will still have to go," Clinton insisted. "He will never pass the mutual consent test given the blood on his hands.  The text also makes clear that the power to govern is vested fully in the transitional governing body, which strips him and his regime of all authority if he and they refuse to step down and leave.”  

Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the meeting very important and useful.  He said he did not come to Geneva to rubber stamp a document, but to achieve an agreement that would be acceptable to all.  
 
“We consider it to be of key importance that there is no attempt in the document to impose upon the Syrian side any kind of transitional process," Lavrov said. "It is very clearly stated in the document that it is a Syrian led transition.  We have achieved a situation where there are no prior pre-conditions to the transitional process and the national dialogue and that there is no attempt to exclude any kind of group from this process.”  

Opposition

The Syrian opposition has made it clear they want no part of a government if Assad is still in power.  

Kofi Annan said the Action Group will use its influence to pressure the various Syrian parties to move the transitional process along.  He said the Group will continue to meet and will be ready to gather if an emergency arises.  

He added that no timetable has been set for the establishment of the transitional government, but he hopes to see progress within a year.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid