February 13 – By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Undermining an international proposal for a cessation of hostilities, Syria’s President Assad has declared that his regime will regain control of the entire country, and that he will never negotiate with an opposition-rebel bloc.Assad was speaking to AFP on Thursday, hours before the International Syria Support Group set out its plan:
Q: Do you think, Mr. President, that you can regain control over all Syrian territory? And what is the timeframe you have for that now?
President Assad: Regardless of whether we can do that or not, this is a goal we are seeking to achieve without any hesitation. It makes no sense for us to say that we will give up any part….
Suppose that the problem is purely Syrian, i.e. that Syria is isolated from its surroundings, we can put an end to this problem in less than a year by moving on two fronts: fighting terrorism and political action. The second scenario – which is the case now – taking the shape of continuing supplies to terrorists through Turkey, Jordan, and partly from Iraq – because Daesh [the Islamic State] exists in Iraq with Saudi, Turkish, and Qatari support.
[This] naturally means that the solution will take a long time and will incur a heavy price.
Assad avoided the question of whether he would support an end to bombardment and to sieges on civilian areas:
The general rule is that there are innocent victims in every war. This is a rule of thumb in wars, but this is definitely not the Syrian state’s policy.
The President gave a muddled answer to whether he made any distinction between rebels on the one side and the Islamic State and the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra on the other, but did assert, “The state will confront all those who carry weapons.”
However, he was clearer in saying that the regime will never negotiate with the opposition-rebel bloc that was established in December in Saudi Arabia, even though “proximity talks” are the goal of the UN and the international community:
It is only natural for the representatives of Saudi Arabia to be terrorists, not politicians….
Any persons calling themselves opposition but belong to foreign states or foreign intelligence services do not represent Syrians in the dialogue, and simply we do not consider them Syrian.
The first round of Geneva talks was suspended last week after less than five days, as Russia continued bombing in support of regime-Iranian-Hezbollah ground offensives. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura set the goal of a resumption of discussions, hoping to bring together the regime and the opposition-rebel bloc, on February 25.
The US responded on Friday through a statement by State Department spokesman Mark Toner:
He’s deluded if he thinks that there’s a military solution to the conflict in Syria.
All we’re looking at — if the Syrian regime continues the fighting – is more bloodshed, more hardship and, frankly, a greater hardening of positions on either side. www.mesop.de