Sunday 6 January 2013

Assad peace roadmap mutates into his war cry

Assad addressing supporters at Opera House in Damascus today
What was supposed to be President Bashar al-Assad’s national address outlining a roadmap to peace in Syria, transmuted today into a war cry.
Pending follow-up posts, here are snippets I translated from his speech at the Opera House in Damascus:

  • The onslaught on Syria is unlike anything else the region has seen.
  • To describe the conflict as one between regime and opposition is incorrect. Defined within the compass, the conflict is between the nation and its enemies -- between the people and the killers and criminals.
  • The terrorists have killed the innocents, wrecked the infrastructure, destroyed schools, deprived people of medicine and bread and cut off water and power supplies.
  • A revolution must have thought. Who knows what the thought of this supposed revolution is? A revolution needs leadership. Where are the leaders? The insurgents? They are no more than a bunch of criminals.
  • We are fighting against Takfiris espousing the ideology of al-Qaeda. They are at the forefront of the offensive. The armed rebels were shoved back to the rear lines to serve as their Takfiri lackeys.
  • We are fighting against these terrorists from al-Qaeda. Most of them are not Syrian... The West didn’t want them in their midst and so sent them to Syria instead. We have to close ranks and fight them.
  • Some countries… have refused to cower before the West and said Syria alone must decide its fate. I am referring to Russia, China, BRICS, Iran and many others. We salute them all and we thank them for their backing and support.
  • Talk of a solution has three dimensions: internal, regional and international. On the internal front, reform without security is unattainable. We were never against a political solution. If someone wants to marry but doesn’t find a spouse, would you say that person wants to remain single? We were open to dialogue but found no partner. Are we expected to enter into a dialogues with gangs based abroad? We would rather talk to the masters, not their slaves.
  • We only believe in a Syrian-led dialogue. Where the regional countries are concerned, they know that our victory is their end. Internationally, the West is the founding father of colonialism and partition. There are those who seek to partition Syria and weaken it. But Syria is stronger... and will remain sovereign... and this is what upsets the West.
  • Does all this mean we have no interlocutors? It simply means, we won’t negotiate with any disloyal side or anyone who took up arms. But we believe in a Syrian-led dialogue that would provide a solution to the crisis through a series of steps, namely:

  1. A commitment by outside powers to stop funding and arming terrorist groups
  2. The army would then cease military operations, while reserving the right to defend state interests
  3. A mechanism to control the borders  
  4. The government would then contact Syrian individuals and political parties to engage in an open national dialogue
  5. The conference would try to establish a national charter that would be put to a referendum, leading to parliamentary elections and a new government. The new government would sponsor a national reconciliation process, issue a general amnesty and begin the reconstruction
  6. No cessation of the fight against terrorism throughout the process

  • The Geneva Declaration left vague the question of transfer of power. It did not say transfer power from where to where. Any transfer will have to uphold national sovereignty. For us, it can only mean a shift from instability to stability.
  • We shall always accept advice, but never diktats.
  • The Arab Spring is simply a soap bubble. We are bent on eradicating terrorism.