August 8, 2011 / 10:49 AM / 8 years ago

Germany: Assad not legitimate if violence continues

BERLIN (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will lose his legitimacy to rule if he does not end a military crackdown on civilian protesters, German government spokesman Christoph Steegmans said on Monday.

His comment added to international condemnation of Assad’s handling of an almost five-month-old uprising that escalated at the weekend and even prompted a rare rebuke from Saudi Arabia.

“The Syrian army as we’ve seen over the weekend has continued its brutal attacks on civilians,” Steegmans told reporters at a regular government news briefing.

“If President Assad continues to reject dialogue with the Syrian people and use violence, it is the view of the German government that he forfeits his legitimacy to further lead the country in the future,” he added.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah broke Arab silence on Monday after the bloodiest week of protests for more political freedoms in Syria, demanding a stop to the bloodshed and recalling the Saudi ambassador from Damascus.

Germany’s foreign ministry said it believed Assad had already lost his legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people, and that he was digging itself into deeper trouble with the international community.

“At the moment, the Syrian regime is doing all it can to undermine its own legitimacy,” spokesman Dirk Augustin said.

Berlin remains in contact with countries in the region and welcomes the growing pressure on Damascus.

“It is very positive that Turkey is also turning the screws, likewise that the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council and Saudi Arabia are increasingly critical of the situation in Syria,” Augustin added.

Reporting by Brian Rohan; editing by Mark Heinrich

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