Syrian President Bashar al-Assad finally addressed the nation in a televised speech. As with recent pronouncements from Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Bahrains King Hamad Al Khalifa, Assads performance contained all the classic elements of the time-tested Arab strongmans harangue
A R A B I C A ???????
By Kristen Gillespie
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad finally addressed the nation in a televised speech. As with recent pronouncements from Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Bahrains King Hamad Al Khalifa, Assads performance contained all the classic elements of the time-tested Arab strongmans harangue:
*Blaming unnamed, external enemies who are conspiring to destroy your country. Assad: Syria is the target of a major, external plot, the timing of which has been accelerated.
*Trumpeting the dignity of a great people. Assad: I belong to the Syrian people, and whoever belongs to the Syrian people will always keep his head held high.
*Pledging reforms that all know he has no intention of implementing. Assad: There are no hurdles to reforms, but there are delays.
*Blaming unarmed civilians holding peaceful protests for their own deaths. Assad: It is conspirators who are behind the protests that have ended in the deaths of scores, if not hundreds, of citizens.
*The government is busy studying the demands of protesters. Assad: The emergency law and political parties law have been under study for a year We want to speed it up, but not be too [hasty].
But though the script from on high is still the same, the context post-Tunis, post-Cairo has changed. The twittersphere was panning the speech in realtime:
*@shamnews: If people stay quiet after a farce like this, they will have no peace until Judgment Day this is a mockery of the Syrian people and its martyrs.
*@MohamadMS adds, I am still in shock even though I have learned not to expect much from an Arab leader but this is the worst speech I have ever heard.
Yadh Ben Ashour, a member of Tunisias Committee to Implement the Revolutions Objectives, says the country will never accept international observers monitoring upcoming elections on July 24. No respectable country accepts international observers the electoral process is completely transparent, Ben Ashour said.
March 30, 2011
photo credit: illustir