- Special Pages
BEIRUT: President Bashar Al Assad’s plan for Syria is “perhaps even more sectarian, more one-sided” than previous such initiatives by the embattled regime, international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told the BBC yesterday.
The UN and Arab League envoy was giving his first public reaction to a three-step plan to end the crisis, announced in a rare speech on Sunday by Assad.
“What has been said this time is not really different and it is perhaps even more sectarian, more one-sided,” Brahimi said.
“What you need is reaching out and recognising that there is a problem, a very, very serious problems between Syrians, and that Syrians have got to talk to one another to solve it,” he said.
Assad’s plan for a “political solution” in Syria was swiftly rejected by the opposition and snubbed by Western nations as being detached from reality and essentially empty. Brahimi last visited Damascus in December, and met both Assad and opposition groups tolerated by the regime.
“I told Assad to be certain that an initiative should be different from what has been done in the past and has not worked,” said Brahimi. “I’m afraid that what has come out is very much a repeat of previous initiatives that obviously did not work.”
“Now people want to have a say in how they are governed. They want to take hold of their own future. “In Syria in particular, what people are saying is that one family ruling for 40 years is a little bit too long. So the change has to be real. “I think President Assad could take the lead in responding to the aspirations of his people, rather than resisting it.”
Syria’s main opposition group the Syrian National Coalition welcomed comments by Lakhdar Brahimi criticising President Bashar Al Assad. “The statement of Lakhdar Brahimi has been long-awaited. He hasn’t criticised Bashar before,” the coalition’s representative to Britain Walid Saffour said.
“But now after he despaired after Assad’s Sunday speech, he had no other alternative than to the say to the world that this rule is a family rule, and more than 40 years is enough.”
Assad’s father Hafez ruled Syria with an iron first for three decades. He was succeeded by Bashar in 2000.