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The News Line: Editorial Assad is ready for a national referendum for Syrians to decide on their head of state and government CURRENTLY parallel with the peace talks in Astana, uninvited Turkish and US forces are operating in Syria in a move to attempt to dictate peace terms to President Assad, who they have been unable to remove by force of arms.


The US, with up to 1,000 troops and heavy artillery, is supporting armed Kurdish movements that have been fighting IS, but which Turkey is seeking to destroy! Syria has been supported by Russian air power and by Hezbollah, who have entered the country at the invitation of the Syrian government to aid its struggle to maintain Syria as a democratic secular state.

Assad yesterday declared to the Italian newspapers Il Fatto Quotidiano and Avvenir that: ‘The war itself is a very tough lesson for every society.’ Assad added: ‘At the end you have to look at yourself and to say, “What’s wrong with my country?” My agenda is to open and facilitate dialogue between the Syrians, because this is a national discussion about what’s the political system that you want. That needs a dialogue between the widest spectrum of Syrian society, because at the end, you’re going to have a referendum regarding that point.’

The president emphasised that only the Syrian people can elect the head of state – ‘the United Nations does not have any role.’ Again, speaking to the European media, Assad was asked: ‘The whole world is wondering what kind of country Syria will be after the crisis, so perhaps you could share with us your idea, like your reform agenda after the crisis, for example: if this country will be more federal, or if you have, like, reform agenda on social issues like protecting human rights, making the army or security agencies more accountable, the kind of things that all people in the world are asking for you?’

He responded: ‘Now, if you want to talk about how Syria is going to be after the war my agenda is to open and facilitate dialogue between the Syrians, because this is a national discussion about what’s the political system that you want; is it going to be presidential, semi-presidential, parliamentarian, and so on.

‘And when you talk about the political system, you can talk about the institutions, because those institutions, whether the army, the ministries, the government, everything else, should be a reflection of that constitution.

‘We cannot talk about it regardless of the constitution and the main political system. That needs a dialogue between the widest spectrum of Syrian society, because at the end, you’re going to have a referendum regarding that point . . .

‘So, I’d rather not to say my vision for Syria, I’d rather say what’s the Syrian vision of the future of our country. So, it needs a dialogue, but it’s still early to talk about, now we are discussing this, but the priority of the Syrian people now is to fight terrorism.’

Meanwhile, Syria’s envoy to the UN Bashar Jaafari, who heads the government’s delegation to the Astana peace talks, referred on Tuesday to the non-appearance of the armed opposition at the current Astana talks.

‘This (non-participation of the opposition) once again confirms that it is under control. As a guarantor country, Turkey is responsible for that,’ Jaafari stressed. ‘We should ask Turkey why the opposition has not come.’

The diplomat said the government’s delegation expects the Astana meeting to be fruitful. ‘We have come here to speak with our allies – Iran and Russia,’ he said. ‘We expect a positive outcome of the talks, the success of the Astana process.’

The nationwide ceasefire came into force across Syria at midnight on December 30, 2016 under a deal on settling the crisis. Russia, Iran and Turkey are acting as the ceasefire guarantors. The truce does not cover terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has confirmed his readiness to hold a referendum on the future of his country and voiced the conviction that its fate should be determined by the Syrian people. The Syrian leader described the US-led Western coalition fighting against the Islamic State (IS) terror group a ‘cosmetic alliance,’ and spoke highly of Russia’s contribution to counter-terrorism efforts.

Workers in the West must give their full support to Assad and the Syrian people. Their victory will be our victory and bring the Palestinian state much, much closer.
 
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