UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said that the slogan “Assad must go” is no longer working. The British official also noted that with Assad controlling 75 percent of the population and 50 percent of the territory, the best thing to do would be to begin the process of a new constitutional settlement for Syria.
His comment comes as the Syrian president’s departure has been a priority for a number of states including the US and UK.
Radio Sputnik discussed this with Paolo Raffone, a strategic analyst and director of the CIPI Foundation in Brussels.
Paolo Raffone: Well the takes on Boris Johnson are always surprising. I mean he is really giving the best of himself with different positions over the hours not very much responsible as an attitude for one of the five countries sitting in the Security Council. And it’s quite a surprise as the UK usually has had very good tenure in diplomacy and we see these changes. So sad these to be welcomed (0:30). Finally even the UK realized that the slogan “Assad must go” is no longer tenable. So it was really time to say so and this is evident because with Assad controlling the half of the Syrian territory and being supported by apparently two-thirds of the population there’s no way that foreign power can say “you go.” If someone has to say so it’s the Syrian people so the process is to study the way that Syrian people can express their wishes and therefore if they don’t want Assad they will vote against him.
Sputnik: UK and other Western countries have been calling for a regime change. What’s do you think is going to happen now in the near future?
Paolo Raffone: The conflict is still ongoing and it is difficult to see the end of it. Actually it may even increase because we are approaching a very delicate date in May, the 12th of May in particular, when we will understand if the United States will accept or not to continue with the nuclear deal on Iran and this is pivotal as a decision for what will happen in Syria too. The issued appointments by the White House Mr. Pompeo replacing Tillerson and Bolton as National Security Advisor are not encouraging to think that there will be positive attitudes on the Iran nuclear deal. Therefore this will impact the situation in Syria and it will be very difficult to predict what may happen. Certainly Syria is divided in a way that there is a line of confrontation which is marked by a river and on the one side you have the US-controlled areas and on the other side – the Syrian and Russian-controlled areas. The risk for confrontation is very high especially if there’s any attempt to go against Iran in this phase. The best way to proceed in a possible and reasonable world would be to return to Geneva and relaunch the process of negotiation for a reform of the Constitution and therefore the tenure of elections in Syria which the United Nations having a long experience in Afghanistan, Cambodia and maybe other conflict areas may run in the future.
Sputnik: Do you think that if the West does change its approach then the outcome could be a different one in the Syrian conflict?
Paolo Raffone: If the United States and Russia will settle somehow on the common ground, yes it is possible to see a restart of the Geneva talks and therefore finalization of this new Constitution for Syria which may lead to elections and eventually therefore to the replacement of Assad by the will of the Syrian people. It will be very interesting to see if they will allow the voting of Syrians outside those Syria areas there are many millions.
Sputnik: Foreign Minister Johnson has previously suggested on working with Russia as a way to move forward in resolving the Syrian conflict. With the current events do you think that this is at all possible?
Paolo Raffone: Mr. Johnson has accustomed us to listen to everything in the opposite of everything and in his afterward effect and with this hysteria about the poisoning of a former Russian agent in the UK, I see it’s very-very complicated. There’ve been expulsions of diplomats from London and retaliation the same that happened in Russia, so I do not know if Mr. Johnson and the UK have realized that they are no more the ones shaping the world. This is something that someone should maybe try to tell the UK. They are one country like others inspite of the fact that they are sitting in the Security Council but they are no more the masters of the world.
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