Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made his first public appearance since June on Sunday. In an address to the nation, Assad rejected the opposition movement in Syria, describing them as "enemies of the people, the enemies of God" and branding them "puppets" of the West.
"Eventually they resorted to terrorism to terrorise the people," Assad said. "They call it a revolution, but it has nothing to do with revolution. That would need thinkers and be based on an idea. It needs leadership -- who is the leader of this revolution?"
He condemned the Arab uprisings in the region as temporary and meaningless, saying, “The Arab Spring is nothing but soap bubbles that will disappear in the near future.”
He stressed that, the conflict was not only between the government and the opposition but between the nation and its enemies.
"The one thing that is sure that those whom we face today are those who carry the Al-Qaida ideology," Assad said, repeating previous assertions that foreign terrorists are behind the uprising in his country.
Assad claimed that Syria is not seeing a conflict between the state and the opposition, but between the nation and its enemies.
“We are interested in a political solution, but we haven’t so far found a partner,” Assad said.
“The first stage of a political solution would require that regional powers stop funding and arming the opposition, an end to terrorist operations and controlling the borders," he added.
Assad called for foreign countries to stop funding terrorist groups in Syria and announced that as part of his solution for the war-ridden country, he would be sealing off porous borders to stop terrorists from entering the country.
It is worth mentioning that Assad's speech was interrupted several times by chants of "With our soul, with our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, O Bashar."
Responding to his speech, a Free Syrian Army commander said the only way to stop the fighting is for Assad to resign and face prosecution, together with all other regime officials. Yasser al-Abud added that the opposition and the armed wing will reject any other initiative.
For those who do not know Damascus, Assad's speech was in the Dar al-Assad Centre for Culture and Arts. It is located in Al Umawiyeen Square and can accommodate up to 2,500 people. Thus, from here we emphasize that the area where this center is located is called the security zone and is very similar to the Green Zone in Baghdad. Due to the size of the hall, the number of attendees will not have been more than 2,500 people. Therefore the attendees of the speech are people belonging to the Alawite sect, to which Bashar and most of the government members relate to.
The speech did not carry anything new. At the same time, it is in the norm of all previous speeches, where the president's speech was interrupted by chants and applauses. This is an old habit, since the era of the late President Hafez Assad. Bashar repeated the word "terrorism" 38 times in his speech, the phrase "internal dialogue" was repeated 31 times, the word "crisis" 26 times, and the phrase "political solution" 11 times.
He did not mention any plan for a cease-fire. This is in opposition to what the press office for Assad stated, that Assad will submit a five-point plan that would not preclude him from contesting the next presidential election when his current term ends in 2014. The plan also provides a cease-fire, allowing international observers to monitor its application, a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution, forming a national government and holding free elections for a new parliament.
It seems, from his speech, that he is very relaxed and confident, as he was very sure that among the attendees there were not opponents of the regime. However, after the end of the speech, he left the hall quickly and did not stop for a long time, as usual, to greet the attendance.
I think the armed opposition will not bother with Bashar's speech and will continue in fighting the regime, in order to achieve its goal, which is to eliminate the regime. It seems Assad has forgotten that the Free Syrian Army fighters are not far away from him.
Finally, if we follow Assad's logic, that terrorists did this to Syria and he has obviously been unable to stop them, if he had been able to, Syria wouldn't be destroyed. The question is, why is he still considered by some people the right person for the country?