The “massive” turnout in Syria’s presidential election and President Bashar Assad’s sweeping victory in the polls shows the civil war and the West’s conspiracy against Syria have failed, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Friday.
In a televised address, Nasrallah — a staunch Assad ally — said the election was a “great victory for Syria” and proved that any political solution for Syria “begins and ends with Bashar Assad.”
The opposition says Assad’s departure from office is a condition for any peace agreement, but Nasrallah dismissed that as a possibility.
“There is president who has been elected by millions for a new seven-year term,” the Hezbollah leader said. “Those who want to work for a political solution must talk to him, negotiate with him and reach a solution with him.”
Nasrallah, who has sent Hezbollah fighters to Syria to battle alongside Assad’s regime, called for an end to bloodshed and new negotiations.
“We call on combatants…to move towards reconciliation and dialogue, looking for political exits to stop the bloodshed,” said Nasrallah, speaking from an undisclosed location (as is his habit given his fears for his own security).
“This fighting will only increase destruction in your country and add to the bloodshed,” he added, addressing the opposition. “Everyone should recognize and acknowledge that war in Syria will not lead to others taking control of it.”
Assad won a new seven-year term in the country’s first multi-candidate presidential vote on June 3, taking nearly 90 percent in an election dismissed by the opposition and its international backers as a “farce.” US Secretary of State John Kerry called it a “great big zero.”
“This is your zero,” Nasrallah shot back at Kerry on Friday, adding that the Syrian election result was a “political and popular declaration of the failure of the war on Syria.”
On Thursday an Israeli diplomatic official told The Times of Israel that Assad, with Iran’s help, has attained most of the regime’s territorial goals and has effectively won the civil war against the Sunni rebel forces.
“Assad has secured 70-80 percent of essential Syria,” the official said. The capital, too, he said, remains very much in the hands of the regime. “The existential threat on Damascus has been lifted.”
The official also spoke of some of the difficult choices made by Hezbollah in recent years — the unpopular decision to fight in Syria, revealing the depth of its ideological ties to Iran and largely forsaking the fight against Israel — and said that while the Shiite terror organization is close to emerging victorious from the conflict, Israel remains very much ambiguous about its goals in the regional war. “We know what we don’t want,” he said, “but not what we do want.”
Mitch Ginsburg contributed to this report.