TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad must leave office or face being turfed out by force, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, rejecting Russia’s bid to build support for a more inclusive coalition in the fight against ISIL.
Speaking in New York after meeting Saudi Arabia’s allies, Jubeir on Tuesday dismissed Russia’s call for a coalition to defend Assad against the ISIL group as a “non-starter.”
He warned that other countries would step up support for militants from the so-called Syria’s moderate opposition, leaving Assad with no choice but to step down or face what he called the “military option”.
“There is no future for Assad in Syria, with all due respect to the Russians or anyone else,” Jubeir told reporters, AFP reported.
He spoke of only two possible outcomes for a settlement in Syria, saying a transitional council reached through a political process would be the “preferred option.”
A second, military option “could be a more lengthy process and a more destructive process, but the choice is entirely that of Bashar al-Assad,” the Saudi foreign minister said.
Jubeir would not be drawn on specifics of what the military option would look like, but admitted that Saudi Arabia is already supporting “moderate rebels” in their battle against Assad.
“Whatever we may or may not do we’re not talking about,” he said, but quickly added: “There is a Free Syrian Army that is fighting against Bashar al-Assad.
“There is a moderate Syrian opposition that is fighting against Bashar al-Assad and this opposition is getting support from a number of countries,” he noted.
“And we expect that this support will continue and intensify.”
Jubeir said the best solution would be for Assad to accept the principles of the Geneva I agreement signed at a peace conference in 2012, laying the groundwork for a transitional government.
Under this plan, he said, Assad would immediately cede power to an executive council with full powers made up of both members of his government and opposition figures.
“And, sometime between the formation of this council and elections -– whether it’s a day or a week or a month, I don’t know -– President Assad would sail into the sunset,” he said.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani came to the UN General Assembly in New York this week to urge the world to support Assad and defeat Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
Putin proposed a Security Council resolution to govern foreign military action in Syria, but Saudi Arabia rejects this.
Saudi Arabia is currently engaged in a military aggression in Yemen, which it launched on March 26 – without a United Nations mandate. According to a report released on September 19 by the Yemen’s Civil Coalition, over 6,000 Yemenis have so far lost their lives in the airstrikes, and a total of nearly 14,000 people have been injured.