DAMASCUS – In his first public speech since June 2012, Assad called for a political solution to the country’s conflict in a desperate attempt to foster a positive political image. His ideas, however, did not receive the approval of the US and Europe. American authorities condemned Assad for accusing the US of providing weapons and financial support to the Syrian opposition. The EU summoned Assad to resign and give way to a political transition in Syria.
Assad told at the Damascus Opera House that Syria is at war with its opponents, whom he denounced as “enemies of God and puppets of the West”. Assad’s demands for the West included outside powers to stop arming Syrian rebels to whom he referred as “terrorist groups”. Assad reassured that any further talks are to happen between him and the West, but not Syrian rebels.
The United States found Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s plan for a national reconciliation conference as “detached from reality”, while Assad himself has lost any legitimacy as a political leader. The United States was backed up by EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton. “We maintain our position that Assad has to step aside and allow for a political transition,” Ashton’s office said.
Voices from all around Europe dismissed Assad’s ideas as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davtoglu found Assad’s remarks “repetitions of what he’s said all along” which bring no real solution for the ongoing political crisis in the country. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague added that “empty promises of reform fool no-one”.
Proposals made by Assad were immediately rejected by the Syrian National Coalition. Spokesman Walid Bunni came out to state that nothing less the departure of Assad and his government will satisfy the Syrian opposition.
It has been estimated by the United Nations that at least 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in March 2011, when Assad began to suppress what started as peaceful pro-democracy protests.
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