Less than a week ago, Syrian President Bashar Assad addressed his country via television, denouncing his opponents as enemies of God, and puppets of the West. 21 months of civil war that has wiped 60,000 lives single-handedly has ut life in his country into a state of disarray. Assad has spoken out with his perspectives on the issues in his country after speaking to the Russian media in November last year, and after nearly eight months of speaking in Syria.
This time, Assad has a plan that claims that his army will stop military operations, but continue to retain the right to defend state interests, provided other countries ceased to arm terrorist groups. He then said that a national dialogue conference will follow, where the government, civil society and political parties will meet in a bid to seek an agreement on a national charter to be put to a referendum. This would then be followed by parliamentary elections leading to the formation of a new government.
Almost immediately after they were announced, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) rejected the proposals, asserting that the President wanted only solutions that would continue to have him in a position of control. The SNC was not willing to accept anything besides Assad’s departure. One other group, the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB) — which, incidentally, is tolerated by the regime — says that it will not enter into talks unless the violence comes to an end. The UN Secretary General expressed disappointment that the Assad plan in rejects the UN proposal for a transitional governing body.
Assad’s proposal shows that he has recognized that only a political solution will help. It doesn’t help that he decided to speak ill of the opposition – it might just catalyse stronger feelings of antagonism. Nevertheless, it is true that weapons have been given to the insurgents – but none of the countries that gave these weapons might agree comfortably to the prospect of representative democracy in Syria.
With the West viewing Syria’s case as transitory, and that Assad has to step down, Russia’s calls for political reform and a new political solution are not coming to bear fruit. The real and the best solution must come from the Syrian people themselves. Until that voice is heard, all else has less bearing.