The Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis is a “challenge” to Assad, not an “ultimatum”, US officials are saying. This means that it will be another exercise in raising the rhetorical bar of condemnation against Syria but will probably not do much damage to the regime or rescue the Syrian opposition in Homs. The Saudi delegation has pulled out of the conference, accusing it of “inactivity.”
Representatives from more than 60 Western and Arab countries are meeting in Tunis, Tunisia today to call for the Syrian government to implement an immediate ceasefire and to allow humanitarian assistance for civilians and people wounded in violence. The group is not expected to discuss military options. They will increase sanctions. Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has been appointed as a special envoy by the United Nations and the Arab League to represent them in finding a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.
“One of the things you are going to see coming out of the meeting tomorrow are concrete proposals on how we, the international community, plan to support humanitarian organizations … within days, meaning that the challenge is on the Syrian regime to respond to this,” said a senior U.S. official.
Asked if the group’s call would amount to an ultimatum, a second U.S. official told reporters: “It is a challenge.”
The Syrian opposition council announced it would ask the “Friends of Syria” to prioritize the creation of humanitarian corridors….
About the author: Syria Comment - Joshua Landis
Joshua Landis maintains Syria Comment and teaches modern Middle Eastern history and politics and writes on Syria and its surrounding countries. He writes “Syria Comment,” a daily newsletter on Syrian politics that attracts some 3,000 readers a day. It is widely read by officials in Washington, Europe and Syria. Dr. Landis regularly travels to Washington DC to consult with the State Department and other government agencies. He is a frequent analyst on TV and radio.