UAE calls for Syria reforms

Dubai: Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, who is facing an unprecedented nine months of protests, was on Tuesday urged by the UAE to introduce reforms that meet the people’s demands.

“Unless Bashar changes and starts making things good for the people, they will carry on like that,” His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, told CNN International in an interview.

Shaikh Mohammad also hinted that Al Assad would go if he doesn’t change. However, he added that the issue was not black and white.

“I think Syria is more complicated than Egypt or Libya because they have Iraq behind them, they have Lebanon,” he said.

The Vice-President’s comments came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that it was not enough to remove Al Assad for Syria to move towards the rule of law.

“A democratic transition includes more than removing the Al Assad regime. It means setting Syria on the path of the rule of law and protecting the universal rights of all citizens regardless of sect or ethnicity or gender,” Clinton said before meeting with Syrian opposition members in Geneva.

On the diplomatic front, US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford was expected to return to Damascus later yesterday after he was recalled on October 22 amid worsening violence.

US ambassador returns

A senior Obama administration official said his presence was important in advancing US policy goals and he would serve as a witness to the violence.

Meanwhile, violence raged in Syria as observers said 50 people had been killed in the city of Homs in the past 24 hours. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quoted witnesses as saying 34 bodies were dumped in the streets of Homs on Monday night after a spate of kidnappings took place earlier in the day.

In the southern province of Daraa clashes erupted between army defectors and security forces and phone lines and mobile phone connections were cut off.

On the border with Turkey, Syrian forces said they blocked an infiltration attempt by about 35 “armed terrorists”.

Giving his first TV interview since the launch of the crackdown on protesters, Al Assad spoke with veteran television personality Barbara Walters, who travelled to Damascus to meet with him.

The interview will air on US television network ABC today.

Source: Gulf News

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