Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he hoped that Francois Hollande’s election as French president will lead to a change in French policy toward his country.
Hollande should understand that it’s not in French interests “to create chaos here in Syria or the Arab world” by seeking regime change, Assad said in an interview with Russian state television broadcast today.
European countries are against Syria’s current leadership because they want to install a government that will follow their wishes, he said. Saudi Arabia’s professed goal of advancing democracy in Syria is “funny,” Assad said.
Assad’s security forces are trying to crush a 14-month-old rebellion against his rule. A United Nations cease-fire plan has failed to curb violence, with Syrian security forces killing 21 people today, according to Al Arabiya. Creating aid corridors in Syria to protect civilians from government troops or considering air attacks would be “premature,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said yesterday. Last month, Hollande told Europe 1 radio he would participate in a military operation in Syria if it were approved by the UN.
Failure by the UN monitoring mission may persuade Russia and China, the strongest advocates for giving Annan’s initiative more time, to consider stronger measures such as additional sanctions to pressure Assad to stop killing his opponents and civilians.
Assad said today that the support provided to his country by the two nations is aimed at shoring up regional stability and not aiding his government’s survival. The Syrian president said that parliamentary elections on May 7 showed the country backed his reform plans.
Fifty-one percent of Syrian voters took part in the election, Khalaf al-Ezzawi, head of the elections panel, told a news conference on state television yesterday.
To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at email@example.com; Zahra Hankir in Dubai at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at email@example.com