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SUMMARY: Syria’s State media reports that the Assad regime has sacked Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil.
The dismissal follows Jamil’s meetings with US officials over the weekend, reportedly without regime permission.
American and Middle Eastern officials met the former US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, in Turkey.
Ford has been trying to get agreement from both the Syrian regime and the opposition to attend “peace” talks in Geneva.
Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi told the weekly Cabinet meeting that Jamil was fired by President Assad’s decree as “a result of the absence…from his work under the current circumstances and carrying out activities outside the homeland without coordination with the government”.
Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi was less critical, claiming that Jamil wanted to leave Government: “Jamil represents an opposition party bloc and he had said in a comment on the discharging decree that he wants to devote himself to the party and political work, and this is a natural right for him.”
However, al-Zoubi implicitly referred to Jamil’s meetings with the Americans as unacceptable, “It goes without saying that when governmental coalitions are formed, all political parties and powers will be committed to the policy of the government.”
Jamil, speaking from Moscow, told al-Mayadeen TV after his dismissal that “the idea of Assad stepping down is out of the question”, but he said that the Government should not have blamed him for meeting with the Americans and Russians in an effort to “end the blood bath in Syria”.
He said he would go to Geneva as part of a loyal opposition and would eventually return to Syria.
Jamil was one of the few ministers in the regime who is not part of Assad’s Ba’ath Party.
Claims had circulated on Tuesday that he was in Russia. Jamil had talks two weeks ago with the Russians, in what was then seen as a significant push between Moscow and Damascus to arrange the Geneva conference while ensuring Assad retained power.
Lavrov: Moscow Is Surprised At West’s “Weak Response” To Attempts To Destabilize Geneva-II
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday criticized what he said was a “weak response” by Western countries to attempts to disrupt the Geneva-II peace conference.
“With respect to Geneva-II, the situation is somewhat more complicated, because already there have appeared open objections to the conference that Russia and the United States has initiated, and the objections come not only from various Syrian parties, but also (from) several capitals of neighboring countries and not only from neighboring countries,” Lavrov said.
Hinting at Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Lavrov added, “And, practically speaking it hasn’t been hidden that this negative attitude towards the Russian-American initiative is due to Washington’s refusal to strike at Syria. Other words, those who nevertheless wanted regime change or to wittingly or unwittingly contribute to the creation of an extremist government, could not hide their emotions in public…It’s amazing that these people can not hide their emotions, it is amazing that in respect of such arrogant statements there have been very mild reactions emanating from Western capitals.”
Lavrov also said that Moscow would hold discussions next week with the U.S. to decide technical matters relating to the Geneva-II conference.
Syrian PYD Leader Says There’s No Future For Syria Without Assad
The leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim, has said that a solution to the Syria crisis without Bashar al-Assad is not possible.
“A solution without Assad means the death of 2 million Alawites,” Muslim told Hilmi Hacioglu of the popular Turkish TV news program The 32nd Day.
Speaking from Rojava in Western Kurdistan on the Syria-Turkey border, Muslim denied that the PYD are cooperating with the Assad regime — an accusation made by some insurgent factions.
“Whoever says this is disrespecting our martyr brothers. We have been fighting with the regime since the 2004 Kurdish uprising. We have nothing in common with them. They don’t recognize Kurdish identity. But others are worse than the regime,” he was quoted as saying.
Muslim said that 400 “Salafists” were currently battling Kurdish factions in the Syrian border town of Azaz. The PYD leader added that his party wanted to attend the Geneva II peace conference but as an independent Kurdish faction.
The Local Coordination Committees report that 61 people were killed on Tuesday, including 15 in Aleppo Province, 14 in Homs Province, and 10 in Daraa Province.
The Violations Documentation Center records that 77,021 people have been killed since the start of the conflict in March 2011, an increase of 53 since Tuesday. Of the dead, 57,244 are civilians, a rise of 28 from yesterday.
Oil Minister: Production Down More than 80%
Oil Minister Suleiman al-Abbas has said that Syria’s oil production has fallen more than 80% this year.
Al-Abbas said production from January to September was 31,549 barrels per day, compared to more than 195,000 barrels per day in the same period last year.
Damascus has become increasingly dependent on oil imports from allies like Iran, who extended a $3.6 billion line of credit to the Assad regime in June.