Assad Calls for “Purely Syrian” Solution

In his rare public appearance, Syrian President Bashar Assad offered on Sunday a plan for putting an end to the country’s 22-month-old crisis stoked up by the West and some regional puppet regimes, assuring his friends and foes that he did not have the least intention of stepping down and that he would steadfastly protect his people against those he described as ‘slaves of foreign powers’.

Assad outlined a new peace initiative, a strategic roadmap and proposed the formation of a national reconciliation conference and a new government and constitution while at the same time he warned against the intervention of Western and regional powers through funding the militants.

The crisis in Syria which had already begun to deepen and plunge the country into irretrievable chaos now seems to have partly ameliorated. Yet, stability is far off or even impossible although the armed groups have reached a temporary military and political impasse.

Syria is faced with two grave threats which in one way or another nullify any efforts directed at establishing peace and stability in the country. On the one hand, the al-Qaeda elements which make up a considerable part of the opposition have infiltrated into the country and on the other hand, the opposition is reportedly funded by the West and regional Arab dictators.

On October 28, 2012, the Syrian army conducted a mop-up operation on the outskirts of Deir al-Zour, a city situated about 420 kilometers northeast of Damascus, engaged a group of armed men and shot dead Ammar Nawar al-Hajr, an al-Qaeda leader. In a recent development, 59-year-old Mohamed al-Zawahiri, the brother of al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri has been arrested by Syrian military forces in the city of Dara’a, southwest of Damascus. He was arrested while he was having a meeting with opposition militants in Dara’a.

The militants insist that Mohamed al-Zawahiri was engaged on a humanitarian mission and that he had, in fact, ‘proposed a local truce to enable aid to get through’. The assertion roughly runs counter to the so-called fatwa his brother Ayman al-Zawahiri has issued, calling for a jihad against the “pernicious, cancerous regime” of Bashar al-Assad.

The fatwa of the al-Qaeda leader against the government of Bashar Assad consolidated the gradually surfacing assumption that the rebellion in Syria was of a different stock in comparison to what was happening in other Arab countries and that it was being funded and guided through a mysterious network.

In his speech, Assad reinforced that the conflict was not one “between the government and the opposition but between the “nation and its enemies.”

“The one thing that is sure is that those who we face today are those who carry the Al-Qaeda ideology. 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.”

However, al-Qaeda is not the only party which contributes to unrest and dissension in Syria. The US and the West are also responsible for Syrian mayhem. Among others, the UK seems to take the most interest in and to be the staunchest supporter of a regime change or euphemistically speaking a ‘revolution’ in Syria. British Prime Minister David Cameron has indicated that Britain is ready to step up its support for the Syrian opposition and warned that “nothing is off the table. I want a very clear message to go out to President Assad that nothing is off the table … I want us to work with that opposition, to help shape that opposition, to advise and work with that opposition, so that we can see the speediest possible transition in Syria.”

As if everything is in its place, and everybody is enjoying their lion’s share of human rights and democracy in the UK, Cameron commenced pontificating about democracy in the Arab country, spoke of a transition of power and predicted a “a future for Syria that is democratic and inclusive, with full support for human rights and the rights of minorities.”

Syria has never “rejected a political solution” but the problem is, as Assad said, “With whom should we talk? With those who have extremist ideology who only understand the language of terrorism? Or should we negotiate with puppets whom the West brought…We negotiate with the master, not with the slave.”

In point of fact, the problem is that neither the al-Qaeda nor the West-backed militants have the least proclivity to construct an effective, diplomatically-centered dialogic relation with the government of Assad and prevent a crippling crisis from snowballing into a tortuously uncontrollable tight spot. From the outset, the West and the regional puppet regimes have called on Assad to step down and abandon the country to the care of the multiethnic and multinational militants who do not even follow a selfsame agenda. US President Obama has explicitly called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. He also issued an executive order for the immediate freezing of all assets of Damascus and the prohibition of Americans from engaging in any transaction involving the government.

“We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led,” Obama said in a statement. “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

Obama’s words have not only been reflected by regional Arab puppet regimes but also been placed high on their agenda. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, has even called for an Arab military intervention in Syria.

“It is better for Arab countries themselves to intervene out of their humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed.”

The prospect of a Syria in the hands of the al-Qaeda extremists is calamitously bleak and bare enough even without the presence of the US and the UK, which cherish gloomy musings for the country and will readily turn Syria into another Afghanistan.

What appears to be a definitive solution to the crisis in Syria lies in Assad’s own words that any resolution must be “purely Syrian and ratified by referendum, including a charter drafted at the national dialogue conference.”

Dr. Ismail Salami is an Iranian journalist, political analyst and lexicographer. A former editor in chief of the Tehran Times Daily, he is currently professor of English literature at the University of Tehran. Read other articles by Ismail.