Assad’s “empty” plans for Syria dismissed by opposition
The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) has rejected proposals laid out by President Assad in a speech in which he denounced the opposition as “puppets of the West”.
The US has condemned the hour-long speech in which Mr Assad called for “a war to defend the nation against terrorist violence”. He proposed what he called a “comprehensive plan” that included an “expanded government”.
There was no sign that he planned to hand over power to the opposition and insisted that this war was to “defend the nation” against a “gang of criminals” and “western puppets”.
Rebels on the ground were quick to reject Assad’s speech, dubbing it “empty rhetoric”. Louay Safi, member of the Syrian National Coalition, told Al Jazeera television: “He has shown that he is a dictator that we cannot negotiate with. I think he has no desire to relinquish power. He wants to crush the opposition and he hopes he can stay over for the next 40 years like his father did.”
Assad accused the opposition of following the ideology of al-Qaeda, who have long been portrayed as the leading element of the uprising which began in March 2011.
On Twitter, British Foreign Secretary William Hague described the speech as “beyond hypocritical”. He added: “Deaths, violence and oppression engulfing Syria are his [President Assad] own making, empty promises of reform fool no-one.”