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Stoppage of Violence Needed in Syria: Analyst

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TEHRAN, April 23 (ICANA) – Thousands of people rallied in the southern town of Daraa after Friday prayers. Similar marches were held in the capital Damascus, and the cities of Homs, Douma and Qamishli. Witnesses and activists say nearly 40 people have been killed.
Saturday, April 23, 2011 9:41:04 PM
Stoppage of Violence Needed in Syria: Analyst

For the past month, the country has been hit by wave upon wave of violent protests. The protesters blame the government for the violence. But Damascus says armed groups and foreign elements are responsible. Human rights activists say over 200 people have been killed in the clashes.

The recent rallies came a day after President Bashar al-Assad signed a decree to lift a decades-long state of emergency --one of the key demands of the protesters.

In an interview with Press TV, political analyst George Jabour discusses the issue and gives his views regarding it. The following is a transcript of the interview:

Q: Tell us about the developments in Syria in terms of the protests and your perception of this?

George Jabour: Well we have two versions -- the version of the government, which talks about the limited number of the demonstrators and the version of the foreign media, which talks about huge demonstrators in civil cities. If there are some killings, I would like to offer my condolences to the families of the victims to Syria and to the president of Syria.

Now, I suppose the situation -- if there are killings- is developing in a rather catastrophic way and my feeling is that the opposition is determined and strong. Also the government is determined and strong. I suppose that what we have to seek is some sort of national conciliation. The more there are victims, the more there is bloodshed, the more difficult reconciliation becomes.

So I appeal for the stoppage of bloodshed from this very moment and I suppose that things can be solved peacefully in order to ensure peaceful political reforms. The president has made some good points in promulgating some laws that certainly will help reform the agenda, will advance the agenda, and more reforms are needed.

But what is needed more, first is the stoppage of violence (and) second, a national dialogue to which all parties can contribute freely. This is my point of view of the situation that I understand at this moment.

Q:We know that a few weeks back Bashar al-Asad came out and addressed the parliament and at that point, when we look at the developments like you were mentioning, some of the reforms. But of course, there were gestures of good will that were also mentioned; prior to that, we remember the release of some prisoners and also other reforms. It seems like a dramatic attempt that is being made by the president in terms of trying to appease some of their demands by the protesters, isn't it?

George Jabour:Yes, I suppose the president is serious about the reforms; but then of course, the speed of the reform has not been, let's say, appreciated by the demonstrators .

Perhaps had the president lifted the emergency situation a few weeks ago, the results would have been better. Then it is quite clear that the president is intent on the reform -- that he has a reform agenda and that he should precede in order for his reforms to be greeted to be appreciated.

I suppose there should be some sharing of views with the demonstrators. The mechanism of this is not quite clear, but I personally have set to myself the task of trying to work on an agenda for a national dialogue.

National dialogue is a necessity because as everybody feels there is a determination with the demonstrators to continue pressing the regime for more reforms. And of course, there is determination for the regime to preserve security and also to work on reforms, so we have to reconcile all these factors together and work towards a national dialogue.

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