Syrian President Bashar Assad

Assad responds to Kerry as Syrians slam US for 'legitimizing' president

After US secretary of state said world would have no choice but to negotiate with embattled Syrian president Assad, Syrians up in arms over comments; Assad responds by rejecting US role.

Syrian President Bashar Assad dismissed on Monday remarks made by US Secretary of State John Kerry that Assad should be included in negotiations to reach a political transition, saying "declarations from outside do not concern us."



Photo: AFP/ HO / SANA
Photo: AFP/ HO / SANA


"We are still hearing the declarations and we should wait for actions and then decide," Assad was quoted on Syrian state news agency as saying to Iranian television.


Video: Reuters    (צילום: רויטרס)

Video: Reuters


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Assad said that international overtures are positive "if they are sincere." He added that such a move should start with "ceasing political support to terrorists, stop financing them and stop sending weapons."


Kerry's suggestion that Washington must negotiate with the Damascus regime was recognition of Assad's "legitimacy" Syrian media said Monday, while Turkey condemned the statement.


Photo: AP
Photo: AP


Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the state-run Anatolia news agency that all Syria's current problems, on the fourth anniversary of the start of the conflict in March 2011, were caused by the Assad regime.


"What is there to be negotiated with Assad?" Cavusoglu was quoted as saying at the end of his visit to Cambodia. You are going to have what negotiations with a regime that has killed over 200,000 people and has used chemical weapons?" he asked.


Syrians have also balked at the statement. The Al-Watan newspaper said Kerry's comments, in an interview recorded on Saturday, also "open the door to a new stage in political negotiations."


The top US diplomat made headlines by saying negotiations with Assad's regime were necessary to end the bloody conflict now in its fifth year.


"Well, we have to negotiate in the end," he said, when asked by CBS television if he would negotiate with the Syrian leader.


Kerry's spokeswoman later stressed that the comments indicated no change in U.S. policy, saying "there is no future for a brutal dictator like Assad in Syria."


But Syrian state television immediately flashed his comments as breaking news when they emerged Sunday, and other media touted the remarks as a U-turn by the U.S. administration.


"Facing a fait accompli, the American administration has backed down and recognised the need to reposition its policy on the Syria crisis," wrote Al-Watan, which is close to the government.


Washington recognizes the need to put its Syria policy "back on the right track by negotiating with President Assad to solve the conflict," it added.


It said Kerry's comments underlined the "failure" of US policy towards Syria and were an acknowledgement that Assad will not be ousted militarily.


"This is a new recognition of President Assad's legitimacy, his key role and his popularity, and the resulting necessity of negotiating with him," the daily said.


It suggested that Kerry's comments could "open the door to a new stage in political negotiations," with Washington perhaps dispatching a representative to talks being hosted by Moscow on April 6.


Moscow, a key Assad ally, is seeking to sponsor its own peace initiative in Syria, but there has been no indication yet of whether the US-backed Syrian opposition will attend the talks.


The Al-Baath newspaper, mouthpiece of Assad's ruling Baath party, said Kerry's comments "confirmed once more the failure of the American-Zionist project against Syria."


"The West has begun to fear the terrorism it cultivated," the daily said.


Syrian state media make no distinction between Western-backed rebels battling to oust the regime and jihadi fighters like those of ISIS.


While Kerry's remarks made a splash, there was some skepticism in the state press about whether they signaled a real intent to negotiate with Assad.


Al-Thawra questioned whether the comments were "a recognition (of Assad's importance) or a tactic?"


פרסום ראשון: 03.16.15, 13:52
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