Assad must resign or be forced to: Saudi Arabia

Gulf states are united in calls for a transition of power in Syria

Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Abdel Al-Jubeir, has called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down or be forced from his position. The call comes as Syrian opposition groups gather in Riyadh to discuss a possible unity.

The Saudi Foreign Minister seemed optimistic of forming a united front ahead of potential peace talks with Assad’s government in Vienna, challenging delegates to prove wrong those who doubt in the potential of the fragmented Syrian opposition.

The sentiment was echoed by the Gulf leaders at the meeting for the annual Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who said that they “support a political settlement… that guarantees the territorial integrity and independence of Syria”. The council is comprised of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile in Riyadh, Syrian opposition groups have successfully set up a body of political and armed factions to take the lead in preparations for talks with the Assad government. The body, consisting of 23 members, “are going to be the decision-makers in terms of the political settlement”, according to Monzer Akbik of the Syrian National Coalition.

A January 1 peace talk, with the aim of establishing a transitional government within 6 months and elections within 18 months, is supported by the GCC.

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