UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has praised the Syrian government for accepting his six-point plan to end the unrest in the country.
"I indicated that I had received a response from the Syrian government and will be making it public today, which is positive, and we hope to work with them to translate it into action," Annan told reporters after meeting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
In a Tuesday statement, Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi confirmed that Damascus has written to the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan accepting his six-point plan, endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.
Fawzi added that Annan views this as an important initial step that could create an environment conducive to a political dialogue that would fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.
To further shed light on the issue, Press TV has conducted an interview with Jamal Wakim, professor of the Lebanese International University.
The program also offers the opinions of two additional guests: Dr. Issa Chaer, with the Syrian Social Club in London, and Taleb Ibrahim who is a political analyst in Damascus. What follows is a rough transcript of the interview.
Professor Wakim, do you think that this peace proposal is actually practical?
We do not know of course what is going on behind the scenes between Kofi Annan and officials or people he is seeing in Syria and elsewhere.
Do you think that the armed opposition have also been engaged, have also been told, to stop fighting or they are even willing to do that?
First, this -let’s say- initiative by Kofi Annan is an American initiative, led by Kofi Annan and that got the acceptance of the Russians and it seems that it is getting the backing of the Chinese, at the same time.
That is beyond the mere technicalities of implementing this peace initiative. As for the armed opposition, it seems that this armed opposition was totally defeated by the Syrian army lately.
The Syrians, the Syrian regime, had got a big support from China and from Russia in order to crackdown on this armed insurgency and the opposition is refusing to accept this peace negotiations or this peace settlement, which proves that, in the end, the Syrian regime was the one to emerge triumphant out of this crisis.
The Americans definitely saw that it was impossible for them to topple the Syrian regime. That is why they accepted a compromise with the Russians and with the Chinese, especially at the time when the American administration, mainly Obama, is heading towards reelection and he needs to disengage with certain international crisis to focus on his campaign.
Right, professor Wakim, would you agree with this analysis that according to what was said here that we are going to basically in the near future see this support ending for these groups and see pressure increase for instance on Turkey or Saudi Arabia not to give support?
Definitely, these groups, these armed groups, receive subsidies, receive their financing, their arms from neighboring countries, mainly from Qatar, from Saudi Arabia and from Turkey.
If this stops based on this American initiative, so the resources of these armed groups will dry out and they will find nowhere to go.
So I totally agree. The problem with the Qataris and the Saudis is that they were still pressing forward to topple the regime at a time when the West in general was backing down on its original plan because the Qataris and the Saudis know very well that they went too far with the Syrian regime and they fear from the Syrian regime having its vengeance on them, especially that Syria has the capabilities to manipulate it if it wants, the Qataris and the Saudis.
So I believe that these armed groups will see itself isolated and they will either be taken over by the Syrian regime or they have to leave Syria.
Professor Wakim, would you say that President Assad stepping down is as Russia was saying a shortsighted kind of conclusion that is not suitable now, it is not a suitable time for President Assad to step down. When we see President Assad going to Homs as our guest in London was saying, shaking hands with people, do you believe that he does actually have that support base in Syria that would not let him resign at this time?
Definitely President Assad will stay in power for the time being, especially that he enjoys strong backing from the Syrian people inside Syria.
I am not saying that he enjoys a total support; there are of course groups in opposition. But the majority of the Syrian people want him in power. This is on one hand.
On the other hand, the Russians would have never been willing to back up the proposal of Kofi Annan had it not been taken for granted that Assad will stay in power.
That is why some opposition groups, mainly the ones that are related to the Muslim Brotherhood and that are supported by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of course, they saw that they had no place in this compromise now and that is why they chose not to back it up.
And as for the rest of the opposition groups, they would participate in the dialogue. I believe that the Syrian regime that is -let’s say- suffering from structural anomalies that this regime has been in power for over fifty years now not only forty two years. And of course it has lots of problems and structural problems that need to be reformed towards a more open political system.
This needs a long period of transition and I believe that President Bashar al-Assad will be the most suitable one to lead these reforms towards a more open and a more democratic Syria.