Assad’s Speech: Too Little, Too Late

Article Summary
Syrian opposition figure Hassan Abdul Azil tells Samia Belkhadi of El-Khabar that Assad’s speech, which offered few concessions, was too little, too late. 

El-Khabar How do you interpret Assad's speech knowing that he specifically referred to the internal opposition in his call for dialogue?

Hassan Abdul Azim:  Frankly, Assad's call for dialogue came too late. Such a speech could have been heeded had it come a month or two into the beginning of the events. Back then, the president was supposed to establish a road map and recognize the importance of youth demands for change and the seriousness of the revolution. It could have been easy to deal with the situation by starting dialogue, appointing a government of national unity and adopting other measures that would protect the country from chaos. But I think that calling for dialogue after the enormous sacrifices that have been made and the great deal of bloodshed that has been going on does not make sense.

El-Khabar Does this mean that you refuse the call for dialogue? What is the alternative then?

Hassan Abdul Azim:  Assad has to know that the solution is no longer in the hands of the Syrians and those in Syria alone. We have already announced that we accept Brahimi's initiative as it is thus far the only initiative that has achieved anything close to an international consensus between Russia and the United States. Moreover, it expressly provides for a transitional period, sets deadlines for a peaceful political transition process in Syria and contains Arab and international guarantees making it the only available reference subject to dialogue.

El-Khabar:  But President Assad explicitly said that the only reference he relies upon is the one he announced in his initiative.

Hassan Abdul Azim:  In this case, he should not expect anyone to respond to his call for dialogue. He says he cannot find partners for dialogue and meanwhile sets conditions that prevent those concerned from participating in such a dialogue. We will cling to the Geneva accord because we consider it key to resolving the Syrian crisis. We do not see how else we can reach a peaceful political solution, especially after the significant deterioration of the security situation. We believe that the proposed international plan is capable of putting an end to the bloodshed.

Found in: brahimi
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