Assad outlines peace deal and condemns opposition as 'murderous criminals'

 

Bashar al-Assad used his first public speech for seven months – trailed by his regime as outlining a peace deal to end Syria’s bloody civil war --- to reject any dialogue with opponents who he described as “armed criminals, enemies of God and puppets of the West.”

However, the Syrian president appeared to offer the prospect of talks with the Western powers he has accused of trying to dismember the country, saying that his government was not rejecting diplomatic moves and wanted to negotiate with the “master not the servants”.

During his hour long speech, with supporters chanting “God, Bashar and Syria is enough”, Mr Assad also proposed a a new constitution and elections preceded by a national reconciliation conference. But this would not include “ those who betrayed the state and taken up arms”, he stressed, interpreted as meaning that the rebels can have no part in the process.

The opposition, and their international backers, dismissed the speech as offering nothing of value and reiterated that there could be no ceasefire while Mr Assad and his coterie accused of human rights abuse remain in office.

Attempts by the regime to hold talks with the US and European states are highly unlikely to succeed with increasing numbers of countries, in the West, the Middle-East and beyond recognising the opposition as the legitimate representative of Syria.

David Cameron said in London: “My message to Assad is that he should go. He has the most phenomenal amount of blood on his hands.” EU foreign affairs commissioner Catherine Ashton “We would look carefully if there is anything new in the speech, but we maintain our position that

his hands.” EU foreign affairs commissioner Catherine Assad has to step aside and allow for a political transition.”Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutogl, whose country is hosting more than 100,000 Syrian refugees, commented “his remarks are just repetitions of what he’s said all along. They are the same promises he made to us. As Assad no longer has the representative authority over the Syrian people, his words have lost persuasiveness ... A transition period needs to be completed swiftly through talks with representatives of the Syrian nation.”

Mr Assad accused the rebels, who control swathes of territory including half of Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, of stealing from people, depriving children of education and creating electricity and water shortages.While insisting that his forces were winning, Mr Assad called for a full mobilisation of the population. “We are now in a state of war in every sense of the word. This war targets the Syria using a handful of Syrians and many foreigners. Thus, this is a war to defend the nation.” We meet today and suffering is overwhelming Syrian land. There is no place for joy in any corner of the country in the absence of security and stability,” he said. “I look at the eyes of Syria’s children and I don’t see any happiness.”

Outlining his “peace initiative”, the Syrian president said: “The first part of a political solution would require regional powers to stop funding and arming (the rebels), an end to terrorism and controlling the borders.” Negotiations can then begin, he said, but the regime reserved the right to take military action to “defend national institutions”.

“We never rejected a political solution ... but with whom should we talk? With those who have extremist ideology who only understand the language of terrorism?. Or should we with negotiate puppets whom the West brought? We negotiate with the master not with the servants.”

The Syrian deputy foreign minister, Faisal al-Moqdad, is currently holding talks in Iran, whose foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, is due to visit Cairo later in the week. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi brokered the ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel. Cairo is also home to the new opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition.

Separately the UN and Arab League envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi has been pushing a plan approved at an international conference in June that would create a transitional government. But the plan leaves President Assad’s role in a future Syrian political landscape unclear.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there