Turkey's new Syria plan sees Assad exit by March

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (Photo: İHA, Sinan Uslu)

December 17, 2012, Monday/ 13:17:00

Turkey's new formula on the Syrian crisis, most of which is being kept secret, sees the exit of Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad by March next year, allowing newly recognized political and military wing of the opposition to lead the transition process in the country.

Twenty months into a Syrian uprising that has now left more than 40,000 people dead, Turkey is revamping its earlier road maps suggesting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.

The new Syrian plan, as reported by Turkey's Radikal daily on Monday, includes the exit of Assad by March, while the Syrian National Coalition would lead a transitional authority in Syria with a more disciplined Free Syria Army under a clear military hierarchy.

Turkey's new Syria plan, of which only small parts were unveiled by Radikal's sources, comes three months after Turkey's jointly proposed plan with Egypt and Iran, which also excluded Syria's Assad from the transition government. The plan, which was rejected by the Assad regime, suggested Syria's veteran Sunni Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa as leader for the transition period.

Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim in a power structure dominated by Assad's Alawite minority, has rarely been seen since the Syrian revolt erupted in March 2011 and is not part of the president's inner circle directing the fight against Sunni opposition fighters.

Sources close to the Syrian government say Sharaa had pushed for dialogue with the opposition and objected to the military response to an uprising that began peacefully.

Sharaa said in an interview to a Lebanese newspaper on Sunday that neither the forces of Assad nor opposition fighters seeking to overthrow him can win the war which is now being fought on the outskirts of Assad's powerbase in Damascus.   

Sharaa said the situation in Syria was deteriorating and a "historic settlement" was needed to end the conflict, involving regional powers and the UN Security Council and the formation of a national unity government "with broad powers.”

Turkey's new Syria plan was hailed by President Vladimir Putin of Russia, a staunch backer of the Syrian regime, as a “creative proposal.” The plan, which envisages a Syria-led political solution to the crisis, was already discussed with Russia, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the US and UN Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. The Radikal report said it was impossible to gain further details about the plan from Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

The report noted that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sent a letter to Ankara following the proposal, stressing the fact that Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov's “opposition might win” remarks came after Bogdanov's meeting with Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu.

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