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Entries in Bashar al-Assad (206)

Friday
May242013

Syrian Activist Presents Plan to End Long Civil War

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Any plan to end the long conflict in Syria is worth considering at this point, no matter how far-fetched it might seem.

Opposition activist Moaz al-Khatib, who once led the Syrian National Coalition, is proposing that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad be allowed to step down without fear of repercussions.

In a Facebook posting, al-Khatib outlined his plan, which would give the embattled Syrian leader three weeks from now to accept "a peaceful transition of authority."

When that happens, al-Assad would have a month to hand over the reins of power to either Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi or Vice President Faruq al-Sharaa.

Their rule would only be temporary, under al-Khatib's proposal, as Syria would switch from a transitional to permanent government within 100 days.

While al-Khatib's allies and the West would likely go along with the plan, the major stumbling block is al-Assad himself who has said he would fight to the death rather than give in to his enemies.

Nevertheless, al-Khatib contends his idea is "a practical response to the need of a political settlement ensuring a peaceful transition of authority."

What's more, he said the Syrian president could leave the country with 500 people of his choice to whatever nation will accept them.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar212013

Senior Cleric Killed in Damascus Suicide Bombing

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- A deadly suicide bombing inside a Damascus mosque on Thursday killed senior cleric Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Bouti, one of the most notable Sunni supporters of the current regime.

According to the New York Times, at least 42 people were killed in the attack and at least 84 were injured. Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Bouti was the imam of the largest Sunni mosque in Syria, and was a support for President Bashar al-Assad -- especially early in the conflict -- despite the fact the insurgency drew its numbers heavily from the Sunni population.

Initial reports indicated that the attack was a suicide bombing, but the circumstances surrounding the explosion are still unclear.

The bombing came on the heels of the announcement by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon that the governing body would be investigating the possible use of chemical weapons during the Syrian conflict.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar042013

President Assad: Only the Syrian People Can Tell Me to Step Down

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is rejecting calls from many members of the international community that he should step down to facilitate the end of a bloody two-year civil war in his country that has cost more than 70,000 lives and threatens to further destabilize the Middle East.

In an interview published in The Sunday Times of London, Assad said “only the Syrian people can tell the president, stay or leave.  Come or go.  No one else.”

Assad blasted the British government for British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s recent comments that he would not rule out supplying arms to the rebels who are battling Syrian government forces.

Assad remarked, “How can we ask Britain to play a role while it is determined to militarize the problem?   How can we expect them to make the violence less while they want to send military supplies to the terrorists?”

The Syrian president told the newspaper, “The British government wants to send military aid to moderate groups in Syria knowing all too well that such moderate groups do not exist in Syria.”  Assad said his country was “fighting al Qaeda” and its associates.

In comments to the BBC, Foreign Secretary Hague said he could not rule out anything in the future: “If this is going to go on for months or years or more, tens of thousands of people are going to die and countries like Iraq and Lebanon and Jordan are going to be destabilized. It is not something we can ignore.  These are the reasons why we just can’t sit it out in Syria.”

Assad told The Sunday Times he was “ready to negotiate with anyone, including militants who surrender their arms.”

“We have opposition that are political entities and we have armed terrorists.  We can engage in dialogue with the opposition, but we cannot engage in dialogue with terrorists.  We fight terrorism,” Assad said.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States would send food rations and medical supplies to the Free Syrian Army that is battling Assad’s government forces.  The Obama administration is still not ready to provide Syrian rebels with military equipment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb262013

Al-Assad Shows Willingness to Talk Directly with Armed Opposition

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- There were a couple of key developments on Monday that could finally put Syria on the path to ending the bloody two-year conflict that has cost more than 70,000 lives and threatens to further destabilize the Middle East.

In Moscow, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad was now willing to hold talks with the armed opposition without mentioning any preconditions for negotiations.

Al-Assad has previously refused to speak directly with forces he has consistently labeled as "terrorists" so this new policy shift could signal the Syrian leader has reached a point where he realizes a military victory is unattainable.

There was no immediate word from al-Assad's enemies on whether they'll engage in discussions. Since the government crackdown began in March 2011, opposition fighters have maintained that no real change can occur in Syria with al-Assad still at the helm.

In another development that bolstered optimism of a solution to the ongoing conflict, the main exile opposition group, the Syrian Opposition Coalition, said it was reversing course and would attend the Friends of Syria conference in Rome this week.  The Friends of Syria group includes the U.S. and other nations determined to see al-Assad's ouster.

The coalition has been upset with what it perceived as a lack of support from the international community, but apparently a call from Secretary of State John Kerry convinced Sheik Mouaz al-Khatib, the group's leader, to change his mind about attending the conference in Rome.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb202013

Syrian President Sees Political Solution to End Conflict

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(BEIRUT) -- At least one person thinks a political solution can be reached to end the two-year conflict in Syria.  That's Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Lebanon's The Daily Star reported on Tuesday that al-Assad, who has been blamed for most of the violence in his war-torn nation, is optimistic that a settlement is possible despite fighting that continues throughout Syria.

Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan told a local paper that he spoke with al-Assad over the weekend and that the president stressed that dialogue with opposition leaders was the only way to solve the crisis that has cost more than 70,000 lives since March 2011.

Arslan said that the Syrian leader told him he was satisfied with "the course of events on the ground and also at the political level."

Al-Assad also believes that his military is in control of most of Syria, a claim impossible to verify given the lack of access by international reporters.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan292013

Is Syrian President's Wife Pregnant?

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(BEIRUT) -- Amid all the instability in Syria comes word that President Bashar al-Assad's wife is pregnant.

If the report in the Beirut-based al-Akhbar newspaper is true, it would be the fourth child for the president and Asma al-Assad, 37.

Word of the pregnancy was apparently confirmed by Bashar himself during an interview and based on previous rumors that have floated around for the past few months.  His wife is due to give birth in March.

The pregnancy is welcome news to the family and its supporters although it will likely have no bearing on the future conduct of the two-year civil war that has left more than 60,000 people dead.

Bashar has vowed to remain in power despite international pressure to step down while opposition forces remain equally determined to overthrow the president's 12-year regime.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan212013

Bashar Al-Assad's Mother Leaves Syria

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Will Syrian President Bashar al-Assad soon follow his mother out the door?

According to various foreign published reports, his mother, Anisa Makhluf, has gone to live with al-Assad's only sister, Bushra al-Assad, in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

It was last July that Bushra al-Assad's husband and the president's brother-in-law, Gen. Assef Shawkat, was killed by a bomb blast in Damascus, along with three other high-ranking members of the Syrian regime.

The departure of Bashar's mother could be considered a major blow to the Syrian leader since he relies heavily on the advice of family members.

Bashar's only living brother, Maher, heads the Syrian army's Fourth Brigade, which has battled rebel forces who are determined to remove the president from power.

In another sign of Bashar's declining influence, large groups of businessmen and wealthy Syrians with close links to the government have also sought refuge in Dubai.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan102013

Russia Wants World to Hear Out Syrian President

ABC News/Rob Wallace(MOSCOW) -- Russia is asking the world not to dismiss Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's purported "roadmap" for peace out of hand.

Earlier this week, the embattled Syrian leader made a fiery speech in which he vowed no surrender to his enemies but offered a proposal for a transitional government, new constitution and permanent post-war regime.

What al-Assad didn't say was what rebel forces and most of the international community want him to say: that he won't be part of any new Syria.

However, Russia’s foreign ministry insisted on Wednesday that at least some of al-Assad's ideas should be considered, given the intransigence on both sides of the conflict that has cost more than 60,000 lives since March 2011.

Later this week, U.S. and Russian officials are due to hold talks with United Nations and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who is seeking ways to bring a quick resolution to the ongoing civil war.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Brahimi has held direct talks with the Syrian president and will interpret his comments to U.S. and Russia negotiators.

However, Nuland told reporters that Brahimi's opinion will reflect those of most Syrians who believe the al-Assad regime has gone past its expiration date.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan082013

US Mocks Syrian President's Latest Speech

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department took issue with Syria President Bashar al-Assad's supposed "roadmap" for peace, and said his recent public speech was nothing more than a desparate attempt to cling to power.

Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Monday accused al-Assad of being "detached from reality" while repeating the Obama administration's calls for him to leave power.

The White House contends that al-Assad is making a half-hearted effort to end the 22-month conflict while spurring sectarian warfare that is tearing Syria apart.

In his speech Sunday, al-Assad offered a peace plan that called for the rebels to first lay down their arms before his military does.  Al-Assad said the next steps would include a transitional government, a new constitution and finally, a new government.  However, he made no mention of stepping down, which is an immediate deal breaker as far as his enemies are concerned.

Most of his address targeted the government's enemies, who al-Assad labeled as "the killers and the criminals."

In Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said al-Assad "bears no responsibility at all...He is making the wrong deductions.  He is making wrong deductions about the historical process that is happening and continues to happen in Syria."

At least 60,000 people have died since March 2011, according to United Nations estimates, and the number of refugees fleeing the country is expected to grow to one million within the next six months.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan072013

Syrian President Vows No Retreat, No Surrender in Speech to Nation

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- In a fiery speech televised to his nation on Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed "the enemies of God will go to hell" -- a further sign that there will be no quick end to the 22-month civil war that the United Nations estimates has cost more than 60,000 lives.

The diatribe before an auditorium full of supporters was a far cry from his last publicized address six months earlier in which al-Assad seemed to be leaning toward a more unified Syria.

But with the nation now more fragmented -- perhaps beyond repair -- and calls from the international community growing louder for him to leave office, al-Assad appears more determined than ever to make a final stand while denying his government is responsible for the widespread violence that has transpired since March 2011.

According to the Syrian leader, "This is a conflict of those who wanted to take revenge against the people to fragment Syria.  Those are the enemies of the people and the enemies of God."

Al-Assad has repeatedly called rebel fighters "terrorists" influenced by foreigners, and the tone of Sunday's speech suggested that he's moving beyond that, telling supporters, "The conflict, ladies and gentlemen, is between the homeland and its enemies -- between the people and the killers and the criminals."

The Syrian president did again offer a peace plan that called for the rebels to first lay down the arms before his military does.  Al-Assad said that the next steps would include a transitional government, a new constitution and finally, a new government. 

However, he made no mention of stepping down, which is an immediate deal breaker as far as his enemies are concerned.

Meanwhile, Syria's main dissident group recognized by the international community, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, is pleading with the U.N. Security Council for help in its battle against al-Assad's forces.

In a letter late last week, the group wrote, "Our people are subjected to genocide, and our country is being destroyed as the international silence is only encouraging the regime to commit more crimes against humanity.  Halting massacres in Syria is an international obligation everyone should bear responsibility for."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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