Assad: Al-Qaeda Ideology Brings Woe to Syria
Embattled Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has made his first public appearance in months, giving a speech at the Palace of Culture in downtown Damascus.
"We meet today and suffering is overwhelming Syrian land. There is no place for joy while security and stability are absent on the streets of our country," Assad said.
The audience received the speech with enthusiastic support, applauding and shouting "God, Bashar, army, victory!"
The Syrian President announced he has a peace plan to restore the country, but he has not yet found responsible partners with whom to implement it.
"The so-called 'rebels' are the enemies of the people, the enemies of God. Eventually they resorted to terrorism to terrorize the people," stated the Syrian President.
He added that the forces violently opposing his regime are motivated by "Al Qaeda's ideology," and should not be viewed as purveyors of freedom.
"They call it a revolution, but it has nothing to do with revolution. A revolution needs thinkers. Those are a bunch of criminals," stated Assad
"The nation is for all and we all must protect it," said the Syrian President, calling for a full national mobilization.
Assad's peace includes a reconciliation conference with "those who have not betrayed Syria", to be followed by the formation of a new government and an amnesty.
"The first stage of a political solution would require that regional powers stop funding and arming the opposition, an end to terrorist operations and controlling the borders," Assad said.
This is the Syrian President's first public statement, after his November interview for Russian televison, in which he made clear his resolve to not abandon Syria.
In his speech Sunday, Assad thanked Russia, China and Iran for opposing international interference in Syria's internal affairs.
The Syrian President further described the so-called Arab Spring as a string of "soap bubbles," that will gradually burst.