News / Middle East

    Assad Outlines His View of Syria Solution

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks at the Opera House in Damascus January 6, 2013, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks at the Opera House in Damascus January 6, 2013, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
    Edward Yeranian
    Looking tired, but sounding confident, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a crowd of supporters at the Damascus opera house Sunday that he is prepared to hold a dialogue with the opposition, if it observes a cease-fire first. 

    Opposition leaders dismissed the offer, saying it was devoid of substance.

    Assad's supporters gave him a lengthy ovation following his first speech to the nation in more than six months. The Syrian president offered his vision for a dialogue with the opposition and his proposal for a possible solution to the 22-month-old conflict.

    According to that solution, the onus is on the opposition to stop armed operations first, and for its foreign backers to stop supporting them, as well.

    Assad says the funding and arming of rebel fighters must stop first, along with the halt of what he calls terrorist operations by those fighters, allowing refugees to return home in peace.  At that point, he says, government forces will cease operations, keeping the right to return fire.

    Previous attempts at a cease-fire have collapsed over opposition insistence that both sides halt military operations simultaneously. U.N. observers withdrew from the country last spring after violence continued unabated, while a brief cease-fire after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan quickly collapsed.

    Assad's proposal for a dialogue with the opposition appears to come on his own terms as well, with him refusing to step down and the current government remaining in place while a national dialogue begins.

    He says the current government will begin holding intense discussions with all sectors of Syrian society in order to hold a national dialogue conference, including all parties interested in a solution to the crisis, both inside and outside Syria.

    In previous attempts at a national dialogue under the auspices of the Arab League, Assad tried to ignore or exclude various components of the opposition outside Syria. This time, however, he included opposition elements both inside and outside the country.

    ​The Syrian president, nevertheless, continued to refer to the armed opposition as "terrorists" and claimed there was no authentic "revolution" in his country.

    He says a revolution must have a leader and must have an intellectual foundation. In this case, he argues, there is no leader and no intellectual foundation, because the supporters of the movement are "a clique of criminals" trying to harm the people.

    Assad also accused the West of fomenting the conflict in Syria in order to weaken his country and to attract elements of al-Qaida, there, to be rid of them, elsewhere. He went on to thank both Russia and China for supporting his government.

    Opposition leaders Walid Bunni and Samir al-Taqi both dismissed the speech, insisting that it contained "nothing new." One Arab analyst told Al-Arabiya TV that Assad was “living in a dream world,” since the rebels are now “at the gates of his palace.”

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Tran Nga from: Occupied Land, Khmerkrom
    January 07, 2013 1:48 AM
    Too late Boy, only life imprisonment or execution is the solution for you Mr Assad. This world seems too no space for you now even your close allied Russia also trying to distance from you. Go to Hell, Assad.

    by: Igor from: Russia
    January 06, 2013 10:29 PM
    President Bashar al-Assad is right to refer to the free rebel fighters as terrorists. They belong to several different groups of terrorists haboured, supported, funded, directed by the US and its allies. Their leaders are carefully chosen and recognized by the West. The Western propaganda instruments embroider them as "fighters for freedom and democracy" and blame President Bashar al-Assad for everything. But the true nature of those terrorists remain unchanged and the West would be their next victims if they gained power in Syria.

    by: bf from: eu
    January 06, 2013 5:19 PM
    Please dont send our youngsters(Troops) over there. What good did we do in Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the places. Give the politicians a gun and send them. Lets see what benefits they get when they come back on cruthes!!!??

    by: Anonymous
    January 06, 2013 4:31 PM
    Assad is correct in pointing out the foreign hand in the "glove" controlling the so called "rebels". The vaneer of freedom fighters has worn off exposing the true nature and make up of the Syrian governments opponents of Syria. All the while, the MSM has given cover and succor to these fiendish terrorists, by robotically repeating only their version of events. So this is the obvious conclusion, we, the public have awakened to, after such a dense fog of propaganda from all around us.

    by: Anonymous
    January 06, 2013 3:05 PM
    Again labeling everyone in opposition as a terrorist. An insult on the Syrian people of the highest level. Meenwhile he continues to terrorize the entire population with snipers, missles, helicopters, tanks, and airplanes dropping bombs on civilians in civilian neighborhoods. No mention of the cluster bombs, phospherous bombs, or any of the victims he killed. Trying to spin the blame of his actions on so called "Terrorists". The crowd watching his speech were his military thugs and their families. Of course they are going to clap, he signs their paycheck. They likely got a bonus for showing up for the show. Bashar al Assad is a disgrace to the world not just Syria. How anyone can kill so many civilians and think they can get away with it is just plain crazy.

    by: Anonymous
    January 06, 2013 8:26 AM
    " Rights groups estimate that 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since President Assad began violently cracking down on what started as peaceful pro-democracy protests in March 2011. The protests evolved into an armed rebellion aimed at ending the Assad family's four-decade authoritarian rule." VOA, you have got to be joking. This line that is fed to the public is a BRAZEN LIE, AND YOU KNOW IT!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.