Oman can ‘indirectly’ help resolve Syria crisis: Straw
September 29, 2015 | 10:00 PM

Muscat: Oman can ‘indirectly’ play a role in resolving the Syrian crisis, according to former British foreign secretary Jack Straw, who also says he cannot criticise Gulf countries’ policies on refugees.

Straw, who served as foreign secretary between 2001 and 2006, participated in the People Conference held in Muscat on Tuesday under the theme ‘The Power within – New Era of Human Capital’.

Asked if Oman can play a role in resolving the crises in Syria and Yemen, he told reporters, “In Syria, indirectly.”

In Syria, you need Russia and other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Straw said. Straw said he believes that there has to be a conversation with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to resolve the situation.

Regarding the Yemen crisis, he said that of course Oman and Yemen share borders but added, “I do not know enough about Yemen.”

However, he noted that there should be some kind of accommodation or political settlement in the country.

Oman’s efforts

Oman, which has not joined the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, has repeatedly called for an end to the war in the country before it becomes a serious threat to the security of the region and has urged Yemeni parties to sort out their differences.

A recent example of Oman’s diplomacy came when it announced that it had negotiated the release of six people taken hostage by Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Straw said that in order to resolve the situation in Yemen, both Saudi Arabia and Iran should be involved and it is ‘frustrating’ that the United States and others were trying to ‘push Iran away’.

Asked about the fact that Gulf countries have been criticised for their policies on refugees, Straw said, “I’m not gonna criticise Gulf countries. Each country gotta make its own decision.”

Europe has got itself into a ‘mess’, he said, adding that some of the people involved are ‘genuine refugees’ but some of them are ‘economic migrants’ who are no different from the economic migrants from other countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Straw believes that the problem will not be solved by encouraging more people to come to Europe.

“I think the best approach is to try and finance camps in the adjacent countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan,” Straw concluded.

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