BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt resumed his criticism of Syrian President Bashar Assad Monday, as Speaker Nabih Berri said that dialogue was the only means to resolve the crisis in Syria. In his weekly editorial at PSP’s Al-Anbaa electronic newspaper, Jumblatt expressed regret that the Syrian army, which he said had made heroic achievements during the October 1973 war, “is receiving orders today from a person suffering from schizophrenia.”
“He [Assad] has insisted from the first moment [the crisis began] that he is fighting terrorists, rather than meet the legitimate demands of the Syrian people for freedom, dignity and liberation from a regime dominated by intelligence agencies ... He insists on going ahead with the military option.”
Assad claims his army is fighting extremists backed by foreign powers.
“The regime’s mouthpieces have announced the good news that he [Assad] will run for presidential elections next year on the body parts of the Syrian people, the rubble of destroyed cities and villages and at the expense of millions of displaced inside and outside Syria, as well as hundreds of thousands of detainees and missing people,” Jumblatt added sarcastically.
The Druze leader said that Assad had turned Syria from a state that had strong regional and international weight to a battlefield where regional and foreign powers vie for influence. Syria’s heritage along with its economy and social fabric have been destroyed in the process, he claimed.
“Here are the Syrian people today falling between the hammer of the regime and the anvil of the terrorist groups that came from all corners of the world, a result of conspiracy and betrayal by some Arab countries and the international community,” Jumblatt said.
The criticism comes after a long spell during which the PSP leader refrained from severely criticizing Assad.
Jumblatt has repeatedly called on the international community to provide Syrian rebels with advanced weaponry to topple Assad’s regime.
Meanwhile, Berri said the only way to end the conflict in Syria was through the Geneva II conference, proposed by Russia and the United States to end the war in Syria, now in its third year.
“What is happening in Syria affects us all. It does not only have repercussions on neighboring countries, but on the entire region,” Berri said.
“There is no solution in Syria except through [all sides] going to [the] Geneva [II conference] for dialogue and achieving a political solution.”
Berri’s remarks came during his meeting with Armenian Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan on the sidelines of the 129th Assembly of the International Parliamentary Union, which kicked off in Geneva Monday.
Berri said that contrary to rumors, the situation in Lebanon was stable. “Just as I said yesterday, there is a Lebanese decision in place at all levels that there cannot be a return to civil war, in spite of deep political divisions in the country,” the speaker said.
Abrahamyan said his country was interested in preserving stability in Lebanon and the region.
In separate remarks he made while meeting Iraqi First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Qusay al-Suhail, Berri said that colonial powers had left the region only after consecrating the Sykes-Picot divisions and establishing a sectarian system in Lebanon. “This is a disease we suffer from, although the democracy we have is among the oldest in the world,” Berri said.
In an interview with Kuwait TV, Berri praised Lebanese-Kuwaiti ties, highlighting the importance of maintaining relations between Lebanon and Kuwait on all levels.
Separately, Berri discussed Arab and international developments with IPU President Abdel Wahed Radi.
The two tackled the Syrian crisis and its repercussions on the region, particularly on neighboring countries.