September 20, 2013 - 09:46 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Syrian conflict has reached a stalemate and President Bashar al-Assad's government will call for a ceasefire at a long-delayed conference in Geneva on the state's future, the country's deputy prime minister has said in an interview with the Guardian, the news agency reported.
Qadri Jamil said that neither side was strong enough to win the conflict, which has lasted two years and caused the death of more than 100,000 people. Jamil, who is in charge of country's finances, also said that the Syrian economy had suffered catastrophic losses.
"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," he said. "This zero balance of forces will not change for a while."
Meanwhile, he said, the Syrian economy had lost about $100bn (£62bn), equivalent to two years of normal production, during the war.
If accepted by the armed opposition, a ceasefire would have to be kept "under international observation", which could be provided by monitors or UN peace-keepers – as long as they came from neutral or friendly countries, he said.
Asked what proposals his government would make at Geneva, he said: "An end to external intervention, a ceasefire and the launching of a peaceful political process in a way that the Syrian people can enjoy self-determination without outside intervention and in a democratic way."
Although both Moscow and the Obama administration seem committed to convening Geneva Two, a major split has emerged between Russia and the US over who should take part. The US has been urging the Syrian National Coalition, the western-backed rebel group, to drop its boycott but wants the SNC to be the only opposition delegation.
"The paradox now is that the US is trying to give the SNC the leading role. We're fed up with this monopolistic view," Jamil said.
Jamil's comments on why he joined the cabinet were those of his party, but his other comments in the hour-long interview represented the government's position, he said.
He repeatedly stressed Syria was changing but it needed support rather than pressure. "Let nobody have any fear that the regime in its present form will continue. For all practical purposes the regime in its previous form has ended. In order to realise our progressive reforms we need the west and all those who are involved in Syria to get off our shoulders," he said.
Jamil said that last week's UN report on the 21 August chemical weapons attack which killed more than 1,000 people was "not thoroughly objective".
He said Russia had produced evidence showing the rockets that were identified by the UN inspectors as carrying sarin were indeed Soviet-made. But he said they had been exported from Russia to Syria in the 1970s.
"They were loaded with chemicals by Gaddafi and exported to fundamentalists in Syria after Gaddafi fell," he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, September 19 he could not be 100 percent certain that a plan for the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons would be carried out successfully but he saw positive signs for hope, Reuters reported.
"Will we be able to accomplish it all? I cannot be 100 percent sure about it," Putin told a gathering of journalists and Russia experts. "But everything we have seen so far in recent days gives us confidence that this will happen."
Putin also said he had strong grounds to believe that an Aug 21 chemical attack in Syria was staged by opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.