The president of Tunisia has again offered asylum to Bashar al-Assad after Vladimir Putin said Russia will not discuss accepting the Syrian strongman in exile.
Moncef Marzouki, who took office in post-revolutionary Tunisia only recently, admitted that Assad is a “murderer” but added that his country would take him in if such a move would bring peace to Syria, according to Agence France-Presse.
If we want to stop the killing, the only way is to have a solution like the Yemeni solution: that the president leaves power and that he has safe haven, somewhere to go, the Tunisian leader told the BBC. Abdullah Ali Saleh recently yielded power in Yemen after a yearlong revolt.
Otherwise he [Assad] will continue to kill and to kill and to kill. And this is why we said: Look, if the price of peace in Syria is to give a safe haven to this guy, why not?
Marzouki made the same proposal last week, but it is unclear if Assad responded to him or not.
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Marzouki also compared the crisis in Syria to the revolt in his own country that rapidly deposed long-time dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and set off the Arab Spring.
The Syrian revolution comes just after our own, so we feel that we have a kind of moral responsibility towards Syrians, Marzouki told the BBC.
And Syrians, also, are Muslims; they are our brothers so I really can't accept that every day you have 100 people killed by the regime. So my obsession is to stop the killing, this is my main problem.
When Tunis hosted a global summit on Syria in February, Marzouki requested that Assad and his family receive immunity and also suggested that Russia grant him asylum in order to solve the crisis that has killed at least 7,500 over the past year.
At that time, Russia turned down the proposal.
I proposed Russia but Russia didn't want, they weren't very happy with the idea and they said: Look, why you, Tunisians, don't take this man?” Marzouki said.
I said OK, if this is the price, I accept to pay this price. This is a high price but we have to pay it because life is much more important than justice.
On Wednesday in Moscow, Putin, the newly elected president of Russia, again flatly rejected this notion.
We are not even discussing this question, he declared to reporters at the Kremlin.
Russia is one of Assad’s few remaining allies in the world, having thwarted efforts by the United Nations and Arab League to sanction and condemn the Syrian leader.
Putin has also expressed his vociferous opposition to any foreign military intervention in Syria to force a regime change.