Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday put forward his own roadmap for a political solution to the country’s 22-month old crisis, which is based on halting the international support to the armed groups currently fighting on ground.
In his first televised speech since June 4, 2012, Assad appeared among hundreds of his loyalists at the Opera House in the capital Damascus. Dressed in a black suit, the embattled leader stood on a brown podium, with a huge poster of the Syrian flag as the background, where there were also small photos of the army’s martyrs.
"Syria will not get out of its crisis without a full national mobilization," Assad said.
He reasserted that Syria is subject to an "aggression and we are defending ourselves … this is called self-defense and couldn ‘t be considered as resorting to security solution."
"Approval of a political solution doesn’t mean that we mustn’t defend ourselves," he stressed.
Lashing out with stern tone at what he branded as "terrorists" and "thugs," Assad defiantly offered his own vision for the political solution while simultaneously showing unwavering resolve to combat terrorism.
According to the president, the political solution to the Syrian crisis includes three phases: the first one calls on all regional and concerned countries to "abide by a total cessation of arming, funding and harboring gunmen."
The first phase should keep up with a halt of all terrorist operation by the rebels and would be followed by stopping military operations, Assad said.
He said that this phase is also based on finding mechanism to make sure of the commitment of all parties to ending terrorist operations and controlling the borders, adding that the current government would start intensive contacts with all spectra of the Syrian society to run "open dialogue for convening a national dialogue conference with the participation of all forces that are desirous of finding a solution in Syria."
The second phase, Assad said, includes an invitation by the current government for a national dialogue to reach a national charter that would draw the country’s political future. He said that this charter would be put for a popular referendum and an expanded government would be formed.
The third phase includes forming a new government according to the new constitution and holding a national reconciliation conference, he said, adding that this phase should also include a general amnesty and reconstruction of infrastructure.
Despite his political vision, Assad cast doubts over the presence of a real political partner "which is able to get engaged in dialogues and is desirous of."
"With whom we should make dialogue?" Assad questioned. "With the sponsors of an extremist thought who do not believe but in the language of blood, murder and terrorism? Or with gangs that are dictated from abroad?"