Syria warns against outside interference | Pakistan Today

Syria warns against outside interference

Syria strongly rejected on Tuesday any foreign intervention over its deadly crackdown on a pro-democracy revolt and singled out its former colonial ruler France, which is pressing the UN Security Council to act. “We can reach consensus despite opposing points of view,” Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told a Damascus press conference. “No one outside (Syria) can impose on us their point of view.”
And while not directly accusing neighbouring Turkey of meddling, Muallem hinted that Ankara, which has called for democratic reforms in Syria and is hosting thousands of fugitives from the government’s crackdown, should “reconsider its position.”
“We say to those in Europe who are criticising us that they should stop interfering in Syrian affairs and sowing trouble in order to apply plans contrary to Syrian national interests.” Muallem said that sanctions against Syria adopted by the 27-nation bloc were tantamount to economic warfare. Since the mid-March outbreak of disturbances in Syria, “not a single European leader has come to Syria to discuss what is going on,” he said. Instead, “they have begun imposing a series of sanctions that today are hitting the livelihood of Syrians, which is equivalent to war.”
Muallem accused France of pursuing a “colonialist agenda under the guise of human rights” and said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe had colonial “illusions.” France, which ruled Syria for two decades under a League of Nations mandate following World War I, is spearheading attempts to get the United Nations to speak out against Damascus’s crackdown. More than 1,300 civilians have been killed and some 10,000 people arrested, according to Syrian rights groups, in the crackdown that has seen troops dispatched to crush revolt in cities across the country.
“Mr Juppe is still living under the illusions of the French colonial era. He has no influence in Syrian affairs,” the foreign minister said, adding that Juppe imagined he had the right to “confer legitimacy on this or that leader.” Western governments have been circulating a draft Security Council resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown but Russia has warned it would veto any such move. On Monday, Juppe said Assad had reached “a point of no return.” “Some believe there’s still time for him to change his ways and commit to a (reform) process,” he said. “For my part, I doubt it. I think that the point of no return has been reached.”
European ministers on Monday agreed to beef up sanctions on Assad as they cast doubt on a new offer of change, some demanding he “reform or step aside”. European Union foreign ministers also angrily demanded action at the United Nations and strongly criticised Russian opposition. Turning to Turkey, which has spoken out against the crackdown in Syria despite more than a decade of close ties, Muallem said, “We are keen on maintaining good relations with Turkey … We don’t want to wipe away years of efforts to establish privileged ties. I wish (Turkey) would reconsider its position.” Turkish President Abdullah Gul has said that Assad should have been more “clear-cut” in promises of reform that he made in a speech on Monday. “One must read between the lines in his speech. He should say loud and strong in a clear-cut manner: … ‘We are passing to a pluralist system, we will organise democratic elections that conform to international standards,’“ Anatolia news agency quoted Gul as saying.
“As soon as the Syrian president says that he will lead the transition in his country, we will see that things will change,” Gul added.
However, pro-democracy activists have rejected Assad’s overtures and vowed that the “revolution” will carry on, while the US State Department called for “action, not words.”
Muallem ridiculed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking why she “took 10 years to work out a law on health reform in the United States but does not wait a few weeks for us” to be able to institute the reforms promised by Assad. Muallem reiterated the president’s call for dialogue.
“I say to those Syrians demanding change, come participate in the national dialogue and test the seriousness and will of the Syrian leadership.” At the same time, he urged them not to “incite demonstrations and violence, which is useless and which only serves the enemies of Syria.”
He denied Western allegations that Syria had received any assistance from Iran or Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in putting down the protests.
He charged that Al-Qaeda militants might have been behind what he called the “murder of security agents and the mutilation of their bodies.”



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