‘Will Not Negotiate with Terrorists’
By Nader Uskowi
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad proposed a plan on Sunday to resolve the country’s 21-month uprising with a new constitution and cabinet. In his hourlong speech, Assad did not acknowledge the advances by the rebels fighting against him nor did he accept any responsibility or offer any apologies or regrets over tens of thousands of casualties caused by his military crackdown of the opposition movement. He also ruled out talks with the opposition and ignored its central demand that he step down. (New York Times, 6 January)
In his first public speech since June 2012, he said the movement against him was driven by “murderous criminals” and foreign-financed terrorists, and all but rejected international efforts to broker a compromise. His speech came a week after UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi visited Damascus in a push to have the government and the opposition negotiate a solution to the conflict.
“Everyone who comes to Syria knows that Syria accepts advice but not orders,” Assad said. “Who should we negotiate with — terrorists?” He added. “We will negotiate with their masters.” (NYT, 6 December)
There were no immediate comments from Mr. Brahimi if based on what Assad said should he continue with his mission.
Photo credit: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria spoke at the Opera House in Damascus. Sunday 6 January 2013. (Reuters/NYT)