CANBERRA – Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed world leaders are feeling the need for speed as they seek a pragmatic, Lebanon-like power sharing solution for the Syrian crisis.
He’s also pointed to the “lessons of history” in again dismissing using ground troops in the Middle East.
Turnbull has had a one and a half hour, “very candid and deep analytical” discussion with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the APEC summit in the Philippines, while he also sat down with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Turkey.
He is now talking up a possible compromise solution, while saying world leaders want to end the “excruciatingly difficult problem” that is the Syrian crisis as quickly as possible.
“You can sense in the room in Anatalya there a real feeling of urgency that there has to be a pragmatic resolution,” Turnbull told reporters in Manila.
“This has gone on for far too long.”
He said the U.S. lead military action to combat Islamic State is important, a political settlement for Syria is the ultimate objective and he’s raised regional examples.
“Where Syria, in an ideal world, would end up is with a regime, or a form of government that involves power sharing between the various groups,” he said. “Obviously the example of Lebanon is one which springs to mind, given its proximity.
Based on a “lengthy” discussion in Turkey, Turnbull said President Putin also wants a political solution for Syria, but has conceded it is “enormously difficult.”
“You know the enmities run very deep,” the Prime Minister said.
“Plainly, when you look at Daesh or ISIL, its base is a Sunni population that has felt disenfranchised or oppressed in Syria, and with very good reason, and also it has felt left out of the new government in Iraq.”
“That process of inclusion, it would of course deprive Daesh of its support base within that country.”
But he said the people of Syria must be involved, “Dictating terms from foreign capitals is unlikely to be successful.”
The Prime Minister has again rejected sending Australian ground forces to Syria and Iraq, saying he and President Obama had the same view that foreign armies cannot hold the territory held by IS.
“His view is that the presence of foreign armies in that theatre at the present time would be counterproductive given the lessons of history and relatively recent history,” Turnbull said.
“The United States is carefully calibrating the level of its response with a view to it being effective.”