Assad: Turkey is best mediator

Syrian president says Ankara is greatest hope for peace.

bashar assad 311 (photo credit: AP)
bashar assad 311
(photo credit: AP)
Turkey must remain the mediator between Syria and Israel and is the country most qualified to serve in the position, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Saturday.
Speaking to Turkish reporters in Damascus, Assad called Turkey “Syria’s greatest hope” in reaching a peace agreement with Israel. “The position of mediator in the indirect talks belongs to Turkey,” Assad said. “We are completely confident in Ankara’s ability to successfully carry out this duty.”
Assad acknowledged that relations between Israel and Turkey had become strained recently, most notably due to the deaths of 9 Turkish citizens aboard the vessel Mavi Marmara, which was boarded by the IDF as it tried to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.
“Turkey has made several attempts recently to renew its work as mediator, but blood has been spilled now,” Assad said. But while he called Israel’s operation a “terrorist act,” he urged the Turkish government to resume negotiations.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said Friday that Syria's president has done "virtually nothing" to improve human rights and expand freedoms during his decade in power.
HRW said Assad has failed to deliver on promises of reform when he came to power 10 years ago this month.
"Whether President Assad wanted to be a reformer but was hampered by an entrenched old guard or has been just another Arab ruler unwilling to listen to criticism, the outcome for Syria's people is the same: no freedom, no rights," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.