Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday proposed a plan for a political transition in his country, but said that no suitable partner for dialogue exists among the rebels.
“If we want a political solution, we need an [opposing] political partner willing to engage in dialogue,” the Syrian regime leader said in a rare address in Damascus.
“Should we speak with the puppets who serve Western countries?” he asked, adding that negotiations cannot be held with foreign powers because they are “accustomed to giving orders while we are used to sovereignty, independence and free choice.”
Assad said the conflict in Syria was not one between the regime and rebels, but a “foreign assault” in which Al-Qaeda-led rebels were robbing the people of state infrastructure and basic necessities.
He further reiterated his hardline stances against Syrian rebels, calling them “enemies of the Syrian people and God.”
“We are now in a state of war in resistance to a foreign assault.”
Assad followed up his fiery exhortations against regime opponents by outlining a political plan that calls first for “foreign countries to stop arming and financing terrorist groups, which will be followed by a ceasefire.”
Then, he said a dialogue could be held to form a new national pact, that would be put up for approval in a referendum. If accepted, a cabinet would be formed under the auspices of a new constitution and a general amnesty would be granted in the country.
“Any initiative to be posed by any country or local party must be based on the Syrian vision and on [my] initiative.”
The embattled Syrian leader cast doubts over the Geneva Initiative’s call for a transition period, asking, “Is it for a transition from a sovereign country to an occupied country?”
“Any idea or initiative can only be accepted by a referendum and by the people, not by the government or the president.”
Assad last spoke in public on June 3 when he addressed parliament in Damascus. In November he gave an interview to Russian television in which he dismissed suggestions he would go into exile, saying he would "live and die" in Syria.