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Paddy Ashdown says Syria will need a peace deal backed up by the great powers. For that to happen, the great powers, ie, America and Russia, need to be talking to each other. At present, they are not. One says Assad has to go, the other says that is up to the Syrian people to decide. America and Russia have never worked together to seek peace in Syria.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says he needs “absolute clarity” that Assad will play no role in the long-term future of Syria. Why? From whom? In order to do what? Is this a precondition of any engagement with Russia or Iran?
Even they though they disagree on serious issues, America and Russia should be working together now. There might never be peace in Syria until they do so. They should be seriously exploring the possibility of a ceasefire between Assad and moderate rebels. America’s commitment in the political arena would provide powerful assurance to the moderates that they can lay down their arms with no fear of reprisals, with the prospect of a good future for themselves and their families. If Russia and America were united, the future of Isis in Syria would be very short. Once they are gone, the business of rebuilding Syria can begin.
America and Russia should be working together. If or when the demand that Assad step down becomes a barrier to that, it should be set aside. His future can be left up to the Syrian people. David Cameron should be using his powerful influence to get Barack Obama talking to Vladimir Putin.
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