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.”

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Comment Sorting
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!

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