DAMASCUS, SYRIA (12:00 PM) – British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has stated that the United Kingdom has no intention of supporting the rebuilding of Syria as long as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad remains in power.
The former mayor of London made the remarks during a meeting with nations that supported anti-Assad forces during the Syrian Civil War, in the fringe of a United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York on Monday. Johnson even stated that not only would the UK refuse any development aid for the reconstruction of Syria after the end of the war, but so would any of the other states that sided with Syrian rebels in past. This would include the United States, France, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, all of whom had representatives in the meeting that Johnson spoke to.
“We believe that the only way forward is to get a political process going and to make it clear to the Iranians, Russians and Assad regime that we, the like-minded group, will not support the reconstruction of Syria until there is such a political process and that means, as Resolution 2254 says, to a transition away from Assad,” Johnson said.
Interestingly, the UN Resolution 2254 that was voted into effect in 2015, makes no mention whatsoever of the removal of Assad from power, contrary to what Boris Johnson seemed to imply.
Johnson’s statement seems to contradict earlier statements by representatives from other former anti-Assad states. US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield earlier stated that “there has got to be a political process if there is to be any international participation in the reconstruction of Syria,” seemingly supporting the Russian mediated peace negotiations going on in Astana currently.
Turkey, formerly one of the main backers of the moderate Syrian armed opposition, also announced the termination of its support to Syrian opposition groups in August, and has agreed to participate with Iran, Russia and the Syrian government in the establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria. Even Saudi Arabia seems to be coming back on its earlier dedication to removing Assad from power, as a recent series of talks between Saudi and Russian diplomats seems to indicate.
Syria has been embroiled in a civil war since March 2011. Anti-government rebel groups and militant organisations have reportedly received massive amounts of financial and logistical aid from several Gulf monarchies as well as Western powers seeking to remove the Assad government from power. The Syrian Civil War has claimed over 400,000 lives and displaced millions of people.
As the Syrian government has been cementing more and more victories upon several rebel and terrorist groups, a peace process was hosted by Russia, Iran and Turkey in the Kazakh capital of Astana, in which significant progress has been made in attempt to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict.