The UK has stopped insisting on regime change in Damascus and the departure of President Bashar al-Assad, Izvestia’s sources in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said. They stressed that the UK approved efforts to release political prisoners and create a safe and neutral environment that would allow Syrians to hold a free, honest, and credible election under UN supervision.
An informed source in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office noted that London did not rule out that the current leadership could stay in office. At the same time, he highlighted the need for real changes in Syria, calling for an end to arbitrary arrests. He also urged Damascus to adhere to OPCW provisions on the non-use of chemical weapons and allow refugees to return home.
For its part, officials in Damascus are certain that Western countries are not really interested in a political solution to the crisis.
“The West blocked the launch of the Constitutional Committee fearing that it would help achieve a political settlement and, hence, steer Syria out of the crisis,” senior Syrian lawmaker Ammar al-Assad stressed to Izvestia.
The fact that the West has abandoned its previous rhetoric means that the balance of power in Syria has changed, member of the Russian Federation Council (upper house) Alexei Pushkov told the paper.
“When the Islamic State [IS, outlawed in Russia — TASS] had Damascus surrounded, the West insisted on Assad’s ouster. They [Western countries] understand that it is impossible to make him step down now given that he controls about 80% of the country’s territory. Raising the issue of his resignation under these circumstances would be tantamount to demonstrating a complete misunderstanding of the situation,” he emphasized.