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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
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!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs