Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s proposed peace plan is far removed from reality and proves once again that he must step aside to make way for a political solution and a democratic transition that satisfies the Syrian people, said Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the US State Department.
Responding to a televised speech and proposed peace initiative Assad made on Sunday, Nuland also said the president is undermining the efforts of UN-Arab League Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to establish peace in Syria and that Assad’s plan would only allow the regime to further perpetuate its bloody oppression of the Syrian people.
Meanwhile, the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said: “We will look carefully if there is anything new in the speech but we maintain our position that Assad has to step aside and allow for a political transition."
British Foreign Secretaryalso responded on Sunday, writing on his Twitter account that Assad's speech was full of empty promises and would fool no one.
In addition, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called on Assad to order his security forces to end their violence, rather than making vague expressions of "readiness for a cease-fire."
The opposition National Coalition said the speech was an attempt to thwart an international agreement backed by Western and Arab powers and again insisted that Assad must stand down.
One opposition leader told Al-Jazeera that Assad had offered a road map to end the conflict, including dialogue, a national reconciliation conference and the formation of a wide-representative government to oversee new elections, a new constitution and general amnesty.
However, Assad’s speech comes after the UN estimated that at least 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since the civil conflict began more than a year-and-a-half ago. Hence, the opposition leader said he believes Assad's plan would need at least 11 years to be implemented because there would be no Syrians left to oppose it.
Another opposition member said the plan was born dead because it does not represent the Syrian people and has no specific date for starting or implementation, saying it was further proof of how the regime lacks seriousness.
In contrast, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran supported Assad’s new initiative and it was a comprehensive plan to defuse the crisis in Syria.
During the speech, Assad slammed Western countries and their regional allies for supporting the “murderous criminals” currently fighting the Syrian government. He denounced the opposition as "slaves" of the West and said Syria wanted to negotiate with the master not the servants. He maintained that the conflict was not one between a government and an opposition but between a nation and its enemies.
Additionally, Assad stressed the need to unite in order to save the country and thanked Syria’s allies -- Russia, China and Iran, that have hampered Western interference in Syria’s affairs. The Syrian president also pledged that his country would remain free and independent.
Meanwhile on Sunday, SANA news claimed that after shelling had hit a Christian area in Damascus but no casualties were reported. Syrian government forces also launched attacks against foreign national militants inside and outside the cities of Daraya, An-Nabk, Homs, Hama and Douma. They killed a large number of militants and confiscated RPG launchers, machine guns, arms, ammunition and explosives.
I think Assad and his regime will not fall without external military intervention, but there is only a slight possibility of this happening. The US administration fears the consequences and cannot afford to take any military action against the Syrian regime. Therefore, the US comment on Assad's speech is as it has been all along, simply stressing the need for the president’s departure.
The European position is also remains unchanged, and most of the comments made are simply duplicated, indicating that the international community has no willingness to take up any military operation against Assad. The maximum reaction from the international community is to boycott the Syrian regime.
It does appear that Israel would consider intervening if it felt the Syrian regime was preparing to use chemical weapons or if it decided to smuggle the weapons outside of the country. Israel’s preparation for these two possible outcomes was reported recently by Israel’s Channel 2 News, which confirmed that 100 countries have already carried out a joint exercises with Israeli Air Force weapons.
The report stated that different types of warplanes were involved in these exercises, including F-16s, F-15s and MiG-29s. This could also mean that Eastern armed countries are involved as well.
All the indications show that the Syrian people face a very long battle. They are the only ones who will be able to resolve this battle. They must continue to fight so the result will be a close defeat of the Syrian regime. Unfortunately, this might only happen after the bloody regime has colored the streets of Syria in red and thousands of body parts are scattered everywhere.
Finally, the Arab leaders should remember that the Syrian people might forgive the Western droop, but they will never forgive the Arab nation's silence in turning a blind eye to their plight, particularly the Gulf states that have provided only small sums of money and few weapons to help the Syrian people.