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Special> Video> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: July 25, 2012 Web Exclusive
Finding Solutions Amid Crisis
Edited by Chen Ran


Violence in Syria is escalating in mid-July. A suicide bombing in the country's capital killed three senior officials including the defense minister on July 18 and left others wounded. The incident is seen as the harshest blow to the Syrian government since the uprising began 16 months ago.

On the same day, Jordanian King Abdullah II said that he saw signs of Syria slipping into "a potential full-out civil war" in an interview with CNN.

But Syrian Ambassador to China Dr. Imad Moustafa rejected the term "civil war" in an exclusive interview with Beijing Review.

"I absolutely reject the term 'civil war' because civil war indicates there are two factions of the people fighting against each other. We don't say our Syrian people are fighting against Syrian people. The current situation in Syria is that the national army and security forces in Syria are fighting against terrorist groups that are armed, financed, and supported by foreign powers," he said.

On July 21, at a joint press conference with the president of Croatia, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he is working with UN-Arab League joint special envoy Kofi Annan to push for a peaceful solution to the Syria crisis.

"I urge all the parties in Syria--government and opposition forces--to stop armed violence without any condition. The extension of UNSMIS' [United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria] mandate for only 30 days is a strong signal that the onus is, above all, on the parties and with the Syrian government, in the first place, who must stop the killing and use of heavy weapons against population centers," Ban said.

Annan was appointed UN-Arab League joint special envoy in February to mediate the Syria crisis. In March, he proposed a peace plan calling for an immediate withdrawal of heavy weaponry from residential areas, a halt to all forms of armed violence, and daily ceasefires for unobstructed passage of humanitarian relief. However, the plan, backed by the UN Security Council and accepted by the Syrian government, did not go well, as government and opposition forces constantly clashed.

On July 20, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution renewing the 300-strong UN observer force in Syria for 30 days.

Li Baodong, China's permanent representative to the UN, said China is happy to see that its suggestion has been taken into consideration.

"What is important is that we want to see that mediation efforts continue by Kofi Annan. And this is a political process. This is the political solution that we want to see to help people in Syria," Li said.

The Syrian ambassador also gave positive comments on Kofi Annan's efforts.

"As for Mr. Annan's initiative, Syria, Russia and China as well as Brazil, South Africa, most of the decent countries of the world expressed their absolute full support for Mr. Kofi Annan. We in Syria believe the success of Kofi Annan's mission will bring goodwill and end the violence in Syria. We believe this is good for Syria, this is good for Syrian people, and this is good for the country as a whole. We still believe that Mr. Annan has very strong prospects for success, because this is what the Syrian people want. This is what the international community wants," he said.

Syria has been wracked by unrest and violence since March 2011, when anti-government protests began. The turmoil has claimed at least 9,000 lives.

The ambassador said the country is moving to address the current situation.

"We have engaged in profound political reform. We have drafted a new constitution. It is the most liberal and democratic constitution across the whole Arab world. We have held general elections. We have allowed to pass new laws and allowed the formation of political parties in Syria. We have passed a large number of very democratic and liberal laws. These laws combined have dramatically changed the political scene in Syria. And we will continue to do this, because as you know, democracy cannot be built by one giant state or one magical one," he noted.

Concerning the country's future, the ambassador believed dialogue is the only political solution.

"We in Syria believe there is a great opportunity to sit with the patriotic opposition who believe in their Syrian values, and we are willing to find compromise with them, and we are willing to find solutions with them. Only through dialogue with the patriotic opposition can we find solutions.

Syria has time and again said that invite every political party whether opposition neutral to engage in a national dialogue. This is the only political solution that can be reached. If they have a political agenda, we welcome them to engage in a political dialogue and we want the Syrian people to be the referee. The Syrian people should decide what the outcome of the political dialogue should be. It's the free will of the Syrian people," he said.



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