Syria dismisses top official who reportedly met with American
ANTAKYA, Turkey -- The Syrian government on Tuesday dismissed a deputy prime minister who reportedly met last weekend with a top U.S. official working to jump-start peace negotiations on the Syrian crisis.
The state-run news agency reported that Qadri Jamil had been discharged via presidential decree “because of his absence from office without prior permission and not performing his duties.”
The official media outlet also cited Jamil’s “involvement in activities and meetings abroad without coordination with the government and overstepping” his authority.
The sacking came after Jamil reportedly met in Geneva on Saturday with State Department officials, including Robert Ford, Washington’s ambassador to Syria and the Obama administration’s point man for the Syrian crisis. Ford has been a key liaison between the White House and U.S.-backed opposition groups.
Jamil, a Russian-trained economist, was one of several opposition figures whom Syrian President Bashar Assad brought into office last year. Critics called the appointments a sham reform in a government long dominated by Assad’s Baath Party. Jamil was a member of People’s Will, the formal name of Syria’s communist party.
Rebel leaders fighting to overthrow Assad viewed Jamil and other opposition figures serving in the government as pawns of a corrupt system.
In various interviews, Jamil said he opposed armed rebellion and argued that peaceful reform from within Syria was the only solution to the nation’s crisis.
Syria’s civil war, which began in March 2011, has cost more than 100,000 lives, according to United Nations figures. It is unclear if U.S.-Russian efforts to sponsor peace talks next month in Geneva will result in formal negotiations involving opposition and government representatives.
Special correspondent Nabih Bulos contributed to this report.
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