In a recent speech, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ignored international demands for his removal from power and called for Syrians to fight the uprising against his rule. Assad also offered a national reconciliation conference, elections, and a new constitution. But these are the same terms he offered months ago, which were rejected at the time as too little, too late.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland condemned the speech as "yet another attempt by the regime to cling to power." She said the speech "does nothing to advance the Syrian people's goal of a political transition. [Assad's] initiative is detached from reality, undermines the efforts of special envoy to Syria from the United Nations and the Arab League Lakhdar Brahimi, and would allow the regime to further perpetuate its bloody oppression of the Syrian people, said Ms. Nuland.
For nearly two years, the Assad regime has brutalized its own people. Even as Assad spoke of dialogue, the regime was deliberately stoking sectarian tensions and killing its own people by attacking Sunni towns and villages. The United Nations estimates more than 60,000 people have been killed in the crisis.
But Mr. Bahimi has warned that as many as 100,000 people could die in the next year if the civil war in Syria is not brought to an end soon. He recently told reporters that if the crisis continued Syria would not be divided into states "like what happened in Yugoslavia" but would face "Somalisation, which means warlords, and the Syria
Mr. Bahimi has warned that as many as 100,000 people could die in the next year if the civil war in Syria is not brought to an end soon.
n people will be persecuted by those who control their fate."
Since starting his job in September, United Nations envoy Joint Special Representative Brahimi has sought to advance an international plan reached in Geneva six months ago, which calls for an open-ended ceasefire between rebels and government troops, and the formation of a transitional government to run the country until elections can be held. This plan was endorsed by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the Arab League, and the U.N. General Assembly.
The United States will continue its efforts in support of Mr. Bahimi to build international unity behind this plan and to urge all parties in Syria to take meaningful steps toward its implementation.
Assad has lost all legitimacy and must step aside to enable a political solution and a democratic transition that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people.