Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs

EU Officials urge Opposition to Accept Assad

Analysis | 2017-10-08 06:16:35
EU Officials urge Opposition to Accept Assad
   Gerrad Steeghs (L), Netherlands Special Envoy for Syria, with with Riad Seif (R) Head of SNC
By Abdullah Ghadawi

(Zaman Al Wasl)- The major shift in the European political  stance over Bashar al-Assad’s future and it role in the the transitional period is no longer a subject to analysis or speculation. 

On more than one occasion, the European Union (EU) has through Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, expressed its inclination to accept the status quo. French President Emmanuel Macaron’s recent comments that his country had no problem with Bashar al-Assad’s regime further clarified the French position. 

European states have thus retreated from their former hardline positions towards al-Assad in a 180 degrees shift. Some European ambassadors are trying to pressure the Syrian opposition to accept al-Assad remaining in power in the transitional phase. These attempts come as Germany sends a delegation of security officials to meet with the regime to cooperate on terrorism and refugee issues.

Last summer, an EU security intelligence delegation visited Damascus and held several meetings with Syrian intelligence officers. They asked the Syrian security services to cooperate in the security field, especially after the wave of terrorism that strike in various European countries including Belgium, Germany and France.

Speaking about the meeting, sources informed Zaman al-Wasl that the regime officials asked the European security delegation work via the usual diplomatic channels and stipulated that their cooperation in the security field was contingent on European states allowing Syrian embassies to reopen. 

The sources added that the regime called on the European delegation to represent the regime positively in Europe and provide the regime with security information about the refugees distributed in European states in return for their cooperation. 

Beyond its dealings with the regime, Zaman al-Wasl learned from informed sources in the Syrian opposition that the Gerrad Steeghs, the Netherlands Special Envoy for Syria, met with Raid Seif, the head of the National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary forces, in Istanbul two weeks ago. During the meeting, Steeghs asked Seif directly to accept Bashar al-Assad remaining in power in the transitional period which angered Seif.  

Change is happening at the level of European strategic policy-making where the EU moves towards positioning Iran as part of the solution. Zaman al-Wasl obtained a copy of a policy paper issued by the European Council on Foreign Relations where the policy recommendations include creating obstacles to America’s efforts to fight Iran in Syria on the basis Iran is part of the solution and not the problem. 

The same policy paper also recommended that the EU commit to creating a degree of stability in the regime controlled areas. This recommendation confirms a previous report published by Zaman al-Wasl based on the statement of an opposition source who said that Mogherini is working to begin reconstruction in regime controlled areas.

In a related context, Zaman Al-Wasl learned from an opposition figure that Fabrice Desipline, an advisor in French embassy in Turkey and key figure responsible for the Syrian file, confirmed his country's objection to the European recommendations on the Syrian crisis. The source added that Desipline pointing out that his country will not accept these recommendations. 
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