US diplomat chides Iran for 'unhelpful role' on Syria


ANKARA (AFP)— The US ambassador to Syria on Friday criticised Iran's "unhelpful" role in the Syrian conflict and appealed for more from Russia to help the refugees fleeing their war-torn homeland.

"Iran is playing a very unhelpful role in terms of moving Syria toward a political transition that its people demand," Robert Ford told reporters in Ankara, a day after meeting Syrian refugees in a Turkish border town.

Ford, who was abruptly recalled from Damascus in October 2011 because of security threats, accused Iran of sending arms to President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"They are sending arms, they are sending other kinds of experts, and in fact we know that they are sending Iran Revolutionary Guard" members, he said.

"We are not talking directly to the Iranians ... but we need to understand what the Iranian role is," he added.

The senior diplomat also called on another key ally of the Syrian regime, Russia, to help with the Syrian refugees who have flooded into neighbouring countries.

An international donor conference is to be held in Kuwait on January 30 amid mounting concerns over a deteriorating humanitarian situation.

"We speak regularly to the Russian government about the situation in Syria. It is not a secret that our two positions are not identical," said Ford.

"With respect to the refugees, what I would simply say is that we, the United States, are sending a delegation to the conference in Kuwait. We hope that other countries will also send delegations in response to the invitation from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon," he added.

"I think the United States would welcome a large pledge from Russia to help with the Syrian refugee crisis because all countries need to work together to address this serious humanitarian crisis."

The United Nations is calling for $1.5 billion (750 million euros) to help through June nearly one million Syrian refugees, and four million other Syrians affected by the conflict but who remain the country.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has registered 500,000 Syrian refugees and expects nearly a million more by June -- figures that represent 4.4 percent of the pre-crisis population.

The US diplomat also stressed that the United States wanted a political solution to end the Syrian crisis, not a military one, and that Assad must step down.

"I want to be very clear about this, that the United States strongly believes that only a political solution, not a military solution will end the crisis in Syria, and that Bashar al-Assad and his regime cannot play the role of a transition government," Ford said.

"And Bashar al Assad as President Obama and other senior American officials have said must step aside."


Act of Cowardice

Iran's ruling tyrants have executed yet another political prisoner in flagrant violation of international law.  READ MORE

The rush to Tehran amidst rise in executions

World leaders should halt these visits and link any deal with Iran to its human rights record.  READ MORE

Arming a dictator

What if President Obama ordered the sale of arms to Syrian dictator to massacre his opponents? READ MORE

Slaughter intensifies under Rouhani

231 executions have occurred since the presidential election in June which brought to power Hassan Rouhani. READ MORE

Silence is not the answer

Iran: Bloody crackdown targeting dissidents aims at terrorizing the people into submission. READ MORE

Iran’s Murder Machine

The wheels of Iran's Murder Machine turn in tandem with its nuclear machine. READ MORE

What now?

The West must drop the dangerous pretence that talking to a regime not interested in listening constitutes the winning strategy. READ MORE

A facelift

This cosmetic facelift should not dupe the West into thinking that there are fresh prospects for a nuclear deal. READ MORE

An Act of Cowardice

The terrorist attack against Iranian exiles at Camp Liberty, Iraq, is another sign of Iranian regime's weakness. READ MORE

Much atalk about nothing

In Istanbul they merely agreed to talk about talking later in May in Baghdad, of all places. READ MORE

An unholy alliance

The brutal state-imposed bloodbath in Syria deserves uncompromising reproach. READ MORE

Iran cries for freedom

The clerical regime in Iran has predictably unleashed another wave of terror against the citizenry since the outburst of the latest string of mass protests beginning on 14 February. READ MORE

A new Iran policy

The latest round of nuclear talks had an all-too-familiar result: more time for Tehran and less time for the international community to prevent a nuclear-armed theocracy. READ MORE

Murder overlooked

What would the rest of us do if a mad gunman was in our midst, systematically murdering our fellow human beings in front of our eyes? The responsible amongst us would not look the other way, because that would serve as a source of encouragement for the murderers to carry on with their heinous acts unchecked. READ MORE

Standing up to Iran's executioners

The Iranian regime's malicious noose has yet again taken an innocent life. Political prisoner Ali Saremi, 63, was hanged in Tehran's infamous Evin prison after a lifetime of peacefully espousing human rights and democracy. READ MORE