EU sees no future for Assad in Syria: foreign ministers

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with American network NBC News in Damascus in this July 14, 2016, photo. (SANA via AP)
Updated 03 April 2017
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EU sees no future for Assad in Syria: foreign ministers

LUXEMBOURG: President Bashar Assad has no future in post-conflict Syria but his fate is ultimately up to the Syrian people, EU foreign ministers said Monday in response to an apparent shift in US policy.
The United States and the European Union have consistently demanded Assad stand down in any peace deal.
But last week Washington signalled it would no longer focus on Assad’s ouster as it concentrates on the wider fight against terror groups such as the Daesh.
Asked what this meant for EU policy, bloc foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said she believed it “would be impossible” to return to the status quo in Syria.
After nearly seven years of war, “it seems completely unrealistic to believe that the future of Syria will be exactly the same as it used to be in the past,” Mogherini said as she arrived for an EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg.
“But this is for the Syrians to decide, that is clear ... any solution that can be acceptable by all Syrians, we will support it.”
The foreign ministers later endorsed a statement which noted: “The EU recalls that there can be no lasting peace in Syria under the current regime.”
It said some 13.5 million Syrians were now in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria while another five million had sought refuge in neighbors, such as Turkey and other regional countries. 
Mogherini on Tuesday co-hosts with the United Nations a two-day conference on Syria’s future in Brussels focused on the disastrous humanitarian situation in the country after a war which has claimed more than 320,000 lives.
Mogherini stressed that this was part of efforts to prepare properly for the end of the war while UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva continued to search for a peace settlement and Russia and Turkey brokered talks between Damascus and the rebels on a cease-fire.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he believed the changed United States position was certainly “more realistic,” as to insist that Assad must step down from the start would only result in deadlock.
“But there is one thing which cannot happen — that a dictator who committed horrible crimes in the region remains untouched,” Gabriel said.
The UN peace talks should continue with the aim of producing a “new constitution, elections and a new and democratic government,” he said.
“This cannot be abandoned or subordinated to the conflict against Islamic State,” he added.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault for his part said there had to be a genuine political transition to a new Syria.
“France does not believe for an instant that this new Syria can be led by Assad,” he said.


Turkey blocked from US F-35 program after Russian missile purchase

Updated 17 July 2019
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Turkey blocked from US F-35 program after Russian missile purchase

  • “The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program"

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Wednesday that it was removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program, a move that had been long threatened and expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system last week.
The first parts of the S-400 air defense system were flown to the Murted military air base northwest of Ankara on Friday, sealing Turkey’s deal with Russia, which Washington had struggled for months to prevent.
“The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program and initiate the process to formally remove Turkey from the program,” said Ellen Lord, the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.
“The United States is spending between $500 and $600 million in non-recurring engineering in order to shift the supply chain,” she said.
Used by NATO and other US allies, the F-35 stealth fighter jet is the world’s most advanced jet fighter. Washington is concerned that deploying the S-400 with the F-35 would allow Russia to gain too much inside information of the stealth system.
“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” the White House said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.
Washington has long said the acquisition may lead to Turkey’s expulsion from the F-35 program.
The Pentagon had already laid out a plan to remove Turkey from the program, including halting any new training for Turkish pilots on the advanced aircraft.
“The situation with Turkey is a government-to-government matter and we’ll comply with any guidance issued by the United States Government,” said a spokesperson for Lockheed Martin Corp. , the prime contractor on the jet.