Speaking in Damascus on Monday, United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said he believes President Assad can contribute to the transition to a “new” Syria, albeit not as the country’s leader.

Brahimi, in Syria after talks in Iran and with the Friends of Syria group, said, “Many of those around (Assad) believe his candidacy [in elections next year] is a fact. He considers this an absolute right… He thinks above all of completing his mandate.”

The envoy continued:

What history teaches us is that after a crisis like this there is no going back. President Assad could therefore usefully contribute to the transition from the Syria of before, that of his father [the late President Hafez al-Assad] and himself, to what I call the new Republic of Syria.

Brahimi said the agreement to dismantle Syria’s chemical arsenal, following the regime’s attacks of August 21, had transformed Assad from a “pariah” into a “partner”.

Despite the refusal of opposition groups to attend proposed talks in Geneva for a political resolution, Brahimi indicated it might proceed without some of those factions:

This conference is the beginning of a process. We hope that the opposition will manage to agree on a credible and representative delegation.

We should not delude ourselves: the entire world will not be present. But as the process continues, it should include as much of the world as possible.

Iran Supplying Oil to Syria at 10% Discount

Documents obtained by Foreign Policy magazine indicate that Iran has provided light crude oil to Syria at a 10% discount since May.

The reduction from about $100 per barrel to about $90 may be part of a $3.6 billion line of credit extended by Tehran to the Assad regime this spring.

The 10% discount was confirmed in a letter of May 12 from the Managing Director of Sahand Naft Iran, which co-ordinates Iranian oil and petrochemical distribution, to the President of Syria’s oil company Sytrol.