Qatar PM: May be "No way out" of Syria civil war
By Chris Francescani, supervising producer, "CBS This Morning"
The prime minister of Qatar on Wednesday urged Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad to step aside to stop the spiraling internecine violence battering the Syrian nation, and suggested again that sending in military peacekeeping forces from neighboring Arab countries remains an option.
Still, the veteran diplomat acknowledged in a wide-ranging interview with CBS This Morning's Charlie Rose that there may be "no way out" of an all-out Syrian civil war.
(Watch Al Thani's interview with Charlie Rose in the player above. The full interview airs on "Charlie Rose" Thurs. night.)
"If the people [don't] want to give you power, you cannot rule with their blood," Sheik Hamid Bin Jassim Al Thani told Rose on Wednesday. "You cannot rule with their bodies in the ground. And I urge him and purge his government to take necessary steps in this direction."
Al Thani said the "suggestion is not to send [troops] to fight with the people of Syria. [It] is a peace mission - a military peace mission to stop the killing between both sides."
Al Thani also criticized economic sanctions against Iran and said that real progress in the vexing international struggle to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions lies only in direct talks between Iran and the United States.
Draft resolution remains in peril
Al Thani was in New York leading a delegation of Arab nations trying to convince diplomats from Russia and China to support a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that calls for Assad to step down. China and Russia are two of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with veto power.
Last fall, both nations vetoed a draft resolution which condemned the violence in Syria but stopped short of threatening economic sanctions. In its current form, the U.N. Security Council goes much further, calling for Assad to step down.
Watch below 60 Minutes: Qatar: A tiny country asserts powerful influence
More than 7,100 people, hundreds of them children, have been killed in Syria since the so-called Arab Spring raged through the country in March, according to Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a human rights organization comprised of Syrian citizens.
"It's essential to mention that the real numbers are much more than this but we are unable to give accurate numbers due" to the challenges of documenting the raging violence in the midst of it, the organization said on its website.
No way out?
Al Thani said Assad should "take the brave step" toward ceding power, a move that would end a dynastic regime that stretches back to 1971, when Assad's father became Syrian president and established an authoritarian government.
"I believe he should [make] the right decision...if it is to leave or to step down and to make a compromise with his people. I wish it [will] work out between [Assad] and his people. We will be very happy if it work[s] out and they find a way out of this, but it looks like that there is no way out."
Iran's nuclear ambitions
Al Thani reiterated his opposition to economic sanctions on Iran and acknowledged his looming fears of Western military action to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
"We are rejecting any military action [of] any kind [against] Iran,'' he said. "That's our principle and it will stay like this. Of course we are watching carefully what happens and we are...this risk is on the table. But we pray that this option is not being used."
Qatar is in many ways representative of the changing face of the Middle East. Committed to political and cultural reform and allied with the West, the tiny Arab nation has at times been supportive of radical
Muslim organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, two groups who also enjoy the support of Iran.
"Yes, we have relations,'' he said. "We have a dialogue with them because we believe we have to talk with everybody. Also the Iranian[s] and Hezbollah blame us because we talk to the Israelis. So we have this problem with both sides. But for us, we need to hear the view directly from every party."
Asylum for Assad?
But some of those relationships go only so far. Al Thani declined to say whether he would offer Assad asylum should the Syrian president decide to step down.
"You know the President Assad," Al Thani told Rose. "We have a relation, [a] friend relationship with him. But the problem [is] we cannot. If we will choose between a person or a nation, always we will choose the nation."
Asked again directly whether Qatar would offer Assad asylum, he said "I don't want to speculate. The main thing is we will help stop the killing. I believe Syria is an important country in our region, and we need a strong Syria."
On the map
The Al Thani family has ruled Qatar for more than a century, gaining independence from British protectorate status in 1971. Extraordinary wealth from oil and natural gas production and a strong relationship with both Western and Islamic forces has fostered the country's reputation a key diplomatic player in the region.
Al Thani seized power peacefully from his father in 1995, and has the driven the country towards economic and cultural reform ever since. In 2010, Qatar won their bid to host the World Cup soccer tournament in 2022.
"Our people need a vision, need a hope," Al Thani said. "But not false hope. They need a hope with a plan, with the right plan. We have to tell them the reality. It's not necessary to tell them, 'We are going to give you this financially,' or-- that will not work."
"You need to work financially, politically -- you need to work-- in--in the human side, education, medication. All the other-- things you need to bring it together and you-- you have to provide them with a full package of how-- how you will be your vision as a government or as a country."
"Fifteen or 10 years ago, nobody knows where Qatar is," Al Thani said. "But now, Qatar [is] on the map. And the challenge now is how to develop this, how we can sustain this."
"Our vision is how to use all the wealth for the people - for their pride, for their future," he added. "And if you want to start [a] future, you need to start with education. "
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