Speaking at the European Union migrant crisis summit in Brussels this morning German chancellor Angela Merkel has called for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to be invited to negotiations.
Recognising that one of the key achievements required to slow the flow of human traffic to Europe from the Near East and Levant is resolving the violent political unrest presently plaguing Syria, Merkel called for renewed efforts by the United Nations to bring about peace, reports TheLocal.de. Suggesting that al-Assad might have any future in Syria, or a negotiated peace is an unusually controversial statement for any European leader, and especially for Germany which has been arming his rivals in northern Syria.
Speaking at a press conference this morning, Merkel said: “We have to speak with many actors, this includes Assad, but others as well… Not only with the United States of America, Russia, but with important regional partners, Iran, and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia”.
Germany sent €70 million worth of military equipment to Kurd rebels in Syria last year, in a number of shipments which included 16,000 rifles, 2,500 Panzerfaust-3 antitank rockets and over military 100 vehicles including armoured vehicles. The weapons were sent to help the ethnic faction fight the Islamic State, but they are also opposed to the integrity of the Syrian state as it was before the civil war, which they see as an occupying force in their own breakaway state of Rojava.
French president Francois Hollande reacted with horror to Merkel’s suggestion that the president of the rump Syrian state could be in a position to make a contribution to a negotiated peace. He said this morning peace would be impossible while he remained in place, remarking: “The future of Syria will not pass through Bashar Assad”.
In Britain, UKIP migration spokesman Steven Woolfe has recently spoken out in favour of Assad, remarking that while his regime wasn’t perfect it is still far better than the present state of war that exists and the Islamic State which could replace it. Speaking of the Ba’athist philosophy that held together pre-war Syria, Woolfe said: “The reality is that under Assad, Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together, side by side… Under IS rule in many parts of Syria, thousands of Christians, Muslims and other religious communities have been and are being persecuted”.
Woolfe called for Assad to remain as leader, but with strict United Nations imposed rules guaranteeing regular democratic elections.
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