First Published: 2012-10-19

 

Iran would accept Assad fall through elections

 

Annan says Tehran will only accept fall of Syrian leader if Syrians are allowed to decide through elections.

 

Middle East Online

Annan warned that foreign weapons were only fueling the conflict

WASHINGTON - Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said Thursday that Iran has told him it would accept the fall of Syrian ally Bashar al-Assad if the conflict-torn country holds elections.

Annan, who served until August as the UN-Arab League special envoy on Syria, renewed his call for a peaceful solution to the crisis and warned that foreign weapons were only fueling a conflict said to have claimed more than 34,000 lives.

Speaking on a visit to Washington, Annan said that he sensed support for a democratic solution in Syria when he visited Tehran in July and met with three top Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"They all had the same message when I pushed them -- that... we accept that Assad may have to go, but the Syrian people should be allowed to decide through elections, even if it's organized under UN authority," Annan said.

"One choice phrase they gave me is that 'democracy is a solution, democracy is the answer in Syria,'" Annan said at the Brookings Institution, a think tank.

Annan said the Iranian leaders did not limit calls for democracy to Syria but also made clear they would push for a similar path in Bahrain, a US-allied monarchy that has put down protests against its Shiite majority.

Iran, which is led by Shiite clerics, is Assad's main regional ally and has criticized Western and Arab pressure on his regime, led by the Alawite sect. But Iran has denied US charges that it has shipped arms to Syria.

The United States has said that it is only providing non-lethal support to Syria's opposition but Sunni Arab powers Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been widely reported to have sent weapons to rebels.

Annan denounced arms shipments, saying that Syria was "almost into a sectarian war" that could spread beyond the region.

"I have said in the past that Syria, unlike Libya, will not implode but is likely to explode -- and explode beyond its borders," Annan said.

"Some governments have made the calculation that the fastest way to end the conflict in Syria is to arm one side or the other to have total victory over the other side," he said.

"It's not going to happen. They're only going to get more people killed," he said.

Annan, who led the United Nations for an often turbulent 10 years starting in 1997, was visiting Washington as he promotes his memoir, "Interventions: A Life in War and Peace."

 

Cameron chairs emergency meeting over British hostage beheading

Around 930 French citizens or residents involved 'in jihad' in Iraq, Syria

Qatar starts to curb Brotherhood’s activities

Mali separatists agree to speak with one voice

UEFA urged not to award 2020 European Championship to Israel

Israel sees future war with Hezbollah

Germany tries first 'Islamic State jihadist'

Egypt court bails top 2011 revolt activist

Iran rejected US request to cooperate against IS

Iran ridicules anti-jihadist international conference

Egypt textile factory collapse kills six

Coalition meets in Paris to plan fight against IS

Yemen rebels, officials to meet with UN to end standoff

Qatar-based Egypt's Brotherhood leaders to relocate

Hollande defends arming Kurds against IS

43 Israeli soldiers condemn 'abuses' of Palestinians

Egypt urged to free more than 20 demonstrators

Turkey’s internet censored further

Tunisia Islamists clash with police in protest

10 Arab states agree to 'share' US-led fight against IS

Obama awaits Congress approval of Syria rebel aid

Hollande in Iraq to back new government

Lebanon to set up refugee camps along border with Syria

Russia slams unilateral US airstrikes on jihadists in Syria

Four Qaeda suspects in Yemen drone attack

Meshaal: Hamas may hold direct talk with Israel

UN Syria envoy says world must confront terrorist groups

Turkey refuses to allow US-led coalition to hit IS from its air bases

Yemen president, Shiite rebels reach deal

EU warns Gaza violence could re-ignite within 'months'

Thani denies UAE, Egypt conducted air strikes in Libya

Obama: We will destroy ISIL in Syria and Iraq

Beirut urges 'common front' against IS 'monsters'

Obama to steel Americans for long battle against IS

Turkish prosecutor demands life sentences for protesting soccer fans

Rich Gulf urged to pump billions into 'Arab Marshall Plan'

28 Syria rebel leaders killed in blast targeting meeting

Britain to ship machine guns to Iraqi Kurds

Rich nations, it is your duty to accept Syrian refugees

Senior Sudan opposition figure released

Germany blasts Salafist 'Sharia Police' patrols

Rebranding is Qaeda’s new marketing strategy

Is multi-cultural France losing it?

Tunisia urges foreign investment in democratic ‘startup’

Iraq MPs approve new cabinet, but key posts unfilled