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Middle East

Reaction to Assad's speech

Opposition and world leaders dismiss peace plan outlined by Syrian president, saying his speech offered nothing new.
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2013 20:51
Syrians in and outside the country watched the speech, Assad's first in months [Reuters]

The Syrian opposition has rejected President Bashar al-Assad's initiative to end the conflict in the country that he laid out in a speech in Damascus.

Speaking on Sunday, Assad said the first step was for foreign powers to end their support for armed rebels seeking to topple his regime, paving the way for political dialogue.

The opposition and several world leaders have dismissed his speech as offering nothing new.

National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces

"The speech by Bashar Assad confirms his incompetence as a head of state who realises the grave responsibilities he carries during this critical time in Syria’s history. Furthermore, it demonstrates that he is incapable of initiating a political solution that puts forward a resolution for the country’s struggle and an exit for his regime with minimum losses because he cannot see himself and his narrow based rule except as remaining in power despite being rejected by his people and his traditional allies.
 
"Assad repeated the talk about a national unity government, a national dialogue, and a new constitution – which is an acknowledgement of the failure and illegitimacy of the constitution that was passed and prepared under the supervision of his regime- at the same time as his militias commit massacres against the residents across Syria.
 
"The Syrian Coalition believes the speech of Bashar Assad was a pre-emptive strike against both Arab and international diplomatic solutions equally. Meanwhile, the Coalition reaffirms its commitment to any solution that stops bloodshed and ensures the fulfillment of fundamental principles that have been agreed upon by most revolutionary and opposition forces, most important of which is the removal of Assad and the end of his security forces.

Omar Idlibi, Local Co-ordination Committees spokesman

“The difference, compared to previous speeches, is that al-Assad has admitted for the firs time that Syria is not living in peace. But the initiative he has suggested is a crippling blow to Ibrahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria.
 
“The Syrian regime does not recognise the Syrian opposition coalition. Al-Assad meanwhile, keeps categorising opposition groups into national and foreign-linked opposition. He has also based all his suggestions to resolve the crisis on his incumbent government’s structure while directing all efforts to fighting terrorism.
 
“This is an attempt to legalise the liquidation of whoever opposes the regime, along with their popular civilian grassroots”.

US State Department

"Bashar al-Assad’s speech today is yet another attempt by the regime to cling to power and does nothing to advance the Syrian people’s goal of a political transition. His initiative is detached from reality, undermines the efforts of Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, and would only allow the regime to further perpetuate its bloody oppression of the Syrian people. 

"For nearly two years, the Asad regime has brutalised its own people. Even today, as Assad speaks of dialogue, the regime is deliberately stoking sectarian tensions and continuing to kill its own people by attacking Sunni towns and villages in the mixed areas of Jabal Akrad and Jabal Turkmen in Lattakia province. 

"Assad has lost all legitimacy and must step aside to enable a political solution and a democratic transition that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people. The United States continues to support the Geneva Action Group’s framework for a political solution, which was endorsed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League, and the UN General Assembly. We will continue our efforts in support of Joint Special Representative Brahimi to build international unity behind it and to urge all parties in Syria to take meaningful steps toward its implementation." 

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

"His remarks are just repetitions of what he's said all along. They are the same promises he made to us.

"As Assad no longer has the representative authority over the Syrian people, his words have lost persuasiveness ... A transition period needs to be completed swiftly through talks with representatives of the Syrian nation."

EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton (via a spokesman)

"We will look carefully if there is anything new in the speech but we maintain our position that Assad has to step aside and allow for a political transition."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague 

"#AssadSpeech beyond hypocritical. Deaths, violence and oppression engulfing Syria are his own making, empty promises of reform fool no one."

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle

"Unfortunately the Assad speech contains no new insights.

"Instead of martial tones again, he should finally free the way up for a transition government and a political new start in Syria."

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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