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As the United States tries to organize peace talks between President Bashar Al-Assad and Syrian rebels, rebels are forcefully asserting that they will not participate in peace talks without promises to remove Assad from power.
USA Today reports that spokesman for the Supreme Military Council, Louay Mokdad said, “We want this bloodbath to end, but we want a clear guarantee this Geneva II will end the war in Syria, that Bashar al-Assad will have no future in Syria or any kind of solution.”
Assad has made very clear his intention to remain in power and expressed plans to run for re-election next year. He showed willingness to attend peace conferences, but rejected U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry’s offer to negotiate a way to remove him from power.
Conflict persists within Assad’s opposition as well in figuring out the best way to remove him from power. Many believe that re-election is an effective way of pushing Assad out of office, but more extreme opposition want him ousted. Furthermore, many disagree on how much Syrian opposition should rely on foreign aid, given that they wish to establish an Islamic state if Assad is forced out of office.
Some political analysts as well argue that Bashar al-Assad has a place in Syrian politics, just not as the president.
UN-Arab League envoy Lakbar Brahimi said that even while Assad seeks reelection. “What history teaches us is that after a crisis like this there is no going back," Brahimi said.
He continued, “President Assad could therefore usually contribute to the transition from the Syria of before, that of his father (the late president Hafez al-Assad) and himself, to what I call the new Republic of Syria,” the AFP reports.
Talks are set to begin on Nov. 23, given the opposition does not back out.