US: International community must change Syrian regime
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US: International community must change Syrian regime

State Department says constant dialog with opposition ongoing, aid will be provided to those in need

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Syrian men who were wounded from the shelling at Baba Amr neighborhood in the Syrian province of Homs (photo credit: AP/Samer Husseini)
Syrian men who were wounded from the shelling at Baba Amr neighborhood in the Syrian province of Homs (photo credit: AP/Samer Husseini)

Humanitarian aid, transition of power and isolation of the Syrian regime will be the three pillars addressed by the international community in Tunisia on Friday, the US Department of State said Thursday.

In a briefing about the Friends of Syrian People Conference in Tunis on Friday, a State Department official laid out the main issues that will be discussed. The meeting was held in London, following marathon-like meetings between various state leaders ahead of the upcoming gathering about Syria.

The first challenge facing the international community is getting the Syrian regime to allow for humanitarian aid to reach those who need it. There are “concrete proposals on how we, the international community, plan to support humanitarian organizations on the ground within days” the state department said in the statement.

Syrian students protest against Bashar Assad at Aleppo University on Thursday (Local Coordination Committees in Syria/AP)
Syrian students protest against Bashar Assad at Aleppo University on Thursday (Local Coordination Committees in Syria/AP)

Secondly, the international body must address the transition of power, “to work with the opposition on implementing a pragmatic, practical transition plan that disproves Bashar al-Assad’s theory that the only alternative to him is chaos and civil war.” The US backs the Arab League initiative, which calls for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down from his post and hand over all power to the parliament, in addition to going to nationwide elections within months.

Finally the conference will be used to coordinate international sanctions and other measures that will end the bloodshed in Syria as soon as possible, as the state department “continue to look at the ways that we can increase the pressure.”

As to why the Syrian regime should start cooperating with the international community, days after rejecting a proposal by the International Red Cross for a humanitarian cease fire, the answer was clear. “In a way, it’s not only a humanitarian access but it’s also related to the pressure track that I described as the third pillar of the meeting tomorrow.”

The US, Europe and many Arab countries are continuously in dialog with leaders of the Syrian opposition, and are taking different measures to provide them with aid, the statement said — although it did not answer whether arming the opposition was an option America was considering.

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