Syrians Ignore Assad's 'Peace Plan' Speech

And it could turn off UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 7, 2013 1:21 PM CST

(Newser) – Syria's civil war raged on today, without the slightest pause of acknowledgement for yesterday's rare Bashar al-Assad speech. It was billed as the unveiling of a "peace plan," but Assad offered essentially no concessions and spent much of the speech justifying his bloody crackdown. And there may be repercussions: In it, he dismissed the work of UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, saying, "Everyone who comes to Syria knows that Syria accepts advice, but not orders," and the New York Times predicts such remarks might cause Brahimi to wash his hands of the conflict. That would present the US and other "Friends of Syria" with a quandary: Get more involved, or potentially watch the conflict continue indefinitely.

And though celebratory gunfire rang out afterward, even some loyalists were unimpressed. "It sounded more like gloating than making promises," one Assad supporter tells Reuters. "Everything he suggests now, it is too late. The rebels aren't going to stop." Indeed, hours after the speech, fresh clashes broke out along the road to Damascus' international airport, and regime artillery reportedly hit a district just three miles from where Assad spoke. One Assad critic in a hard-hit district agreed that the speech meant little. "Here, no one cares about this speech. They care about food and electricity."

Syrian President Bashar Assad gestures as he speaks, at the Opera House in central Damascus, Syria, Jan. 6, 2013.
Syrian President Bashar Assad gestures as he speaks, at the Opera House in central Damascus, Syria, Jan. 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/SANA)
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