No peace deal in Syria without US role, says opposition

A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter walks at the northern part of the Tabqa dam on the Euphrates River, Syria. (Reuters)
Updated 29 March 2017
0

No peace deal in Syria without US role, says opposition

GENEVA: A political deal to end the Syrian conflict is not possible without a strong US role, the opposition’s chief negotiator said, warning that Washington’s absence was threatening ongoing peace talks.
Lead negotiator for the main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Mohammed Sabra, said the UN-backed talks in Geneva remained “stalled.”
“There can be no real and viable political solution without the presence of the Americans,” he said.
The US has a “moral duty” to throw its weight behind efforts to end the six-year conflict, he added.
Sabra warned that a deal would be impossible “if the Russians do not withdraw their (military) support for the regime.”
Sabra also reiterated the HNC’s often-repeated claim that the Syrian regime’s delegation, headed by the country’s ambassador to the UN Bashar Al-Jaafari, was “not seriously involved” in the talks.
“Until now, we don’t have a partner in these negotiations,” he insisted.
His comments came amid a fifth round of negotiations in Geneva being mediated by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.
Sabra insisted that “once the transitional government is formed,” Assad’s regime would end, and he “and his clique will be referred to a fair trial” for its crimes.
Meanwhile, Syrian engineers worked on Tuesday to open spillways and ease pressure on a major dam across the Euphrates River, amid a pause in a US-backed assault to capture it from Daesh, a witness said.
The Tabqa dam is a key strategic target in the military campaign to isolate and capture the Syrian city of Raqqa, Daesh’s biggest urban stronghold.
The engineers arrived from the dam’s northern entrance which the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance captured last week. The dam’s southern reaches remain in the hands of the militants.
Work on the dam was being carried out after the regime said it had been damaged by US airstrikes and could collapse, with the risk of catastrophic flooding.
A senior Russian general accused the coalition of targeting Syria’s infrastructure — including the dam.
Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the military’s General Staff said the coalition was trying to “completely destroy critical infrastructure in Syria and complicate post-war reconstruction as much as possible.”


India’s Parliament rejects no confidence motion against Modi

Updated 21 July 2018
0

India’s Parliament rejects no confidence motion against Modi

  • After a marathon 12 hours of debate more than 60 percent of the lower house voted in the BJP’s favor
  • The opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi crossed the chamber during debate to give an awkward embrace to a seated and clearly surprised Modi

NEW DELHI: India’s ruling party sailed through a confidence vote in a theatrical parliamentary session which saw a startled Prime Minister Narendra Modi embraced by his chief political foe.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was in no danger of losing its first confidence motion since taking power four years ago, which was prompted by a minor party walking out of the governing coalition.
After a marathon 12 hours of debate, more than 60 percent of the lower house voted in the BJP’s favor, but the vote was overshadowed by the theatrics of bitter Modi rival Rahul Gandhi.
The opposition Congress party leader crossed the chamber during debate to give an awkward embrace to a seated and clearly surprised Modi.
“You can abuse me and call me names but I don’t have any hatred toward you,” Gandhi said to cheers from Congress lawmakers just before he hugged his rival.
After gathering his wits, Modi called Gandhi again to shake hands and pat his back, and the opposition leader winked mischieviously at Congress colleagues after returning to his seat.
Congress later voted against Modi’s government despite the brief bonhomie on the parliament floor.
The hug has since gone viral on social media and endlessly dissected non-stop on India’s cable TV channels and went viral on social media, with some praising Gandhi’s apparent gesture of goodwill.
“Earlier opposition parties... always managed to transcend rivalry at certain crucial moments,” said independent analyst Shiv Vishwanathan in comments to the Hindustan.
“Today, Rahul Gandhi captured that history.”
But Modi was less convinced of Gandhi’s sincerity, later telling parliament he was confused by Gandhi’s “childish” behavior.
Modi and Gandhi’s running war of words has escalated since polls showed a decline in the BJP’s popularity, fanning hopes of an opposition comeback in next year’s elections after a Congress rout in 2014.