Syrian President Bashar al-Assad delivered a rare TV address in Damascus Sunday, his first since June.
Assad set out a peace plan involving a reconciliation conference and a referendum on a national charter, which shows that the president has a very clear aim for both his country and himself: He will never make any concession to give up power or go into exile. This is exactly in line with his speech one year ago which called for reform under his leadership.
Assad's speech was soon dismissed by opposition leaders, who have repeatedly said they will accept nothing but Assad's departure.
There is currently no united opposition group in Syria, and different groups have different political demands. Within these groups, there are extremist armed forces.
During his speech, Assad insisted that Syria would not negotiate with people with "terrorist" ideas. If they, formed by Syria's own people, want to change the country's political order, they should be united as a whole and draw a line with outside terrorists, and not try to achieve their goals by making use of outside forces. Currently, those involved in military clashes are mainly radical armed groups from outside.
Some say that the main divergence between the Syrian government and opposition is whether Assad should remain in power. Nonetheless, things are not that simple.
The fundamental reason for the Syrian crisis is the fight between different religious sects. Assad belongs to the Alevi sect, a historically persecuted minority sect of Islam. If Assad's regime is overthrown but the political status of the Alevi sect is not resolved, the Syrian crisis will not end.
During his speech, Assad dismissed the Syrian opposition movement as puppets manufactured by the West. The US Department of State said his peace plan was "detached from reality." The reality is that the Syrian crisis cannot be resolved without dialogue with the West. Assad will find it impossible to realize his goal if he refuses to communicate with opposition groups backed by the Arab League and the West.
Due to the complexity of opposition groups within Syria, if the crisis is to be resolved militarily, the result will benefit no one. Therefore, all sides should try to find an opportunity for political solutions.
Meanwhile, the parties concerned, including the Arab League, the US and Russia, can help solve the crisis rather than become agents of Syria and turn the crisis into a war among themselves.
The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Wang Wenwen based on an interview with Yin Gang, a researcher at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. firstname.lastname@example.org