News / Middle East

Syrian President Assad Vows to Defeat 'Plot'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addresses the nation during a speech at the Parliament in Damascus, Syria, March 30, 2011
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addresses the nation during a speech at the Parliament in Damascus, Syria, March 30, 2011

President Bashar al-Assad told parliament that Syria will defeat those behind a "plot" against his country. Assad said he would continue on the path of reform for Syria - but did not announce the lifting of a state of emergency, as protesters have desired.

Members of the Syrian parliament gave an effusive show of support for Assad as he entered parliament to discuss the recent wave of unrest shaking his country. Assad had remained silent throughout the crisis, and his first address was eagerly awaited.

His hand appeared to have been strengthened by a series of pro-government rallies across the country on Tuesday. Tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets of more than half a dozen cities to cheer on the president, eclipsing recent violence in the towns of Daraa and Latakia.

However, news reports say hundreds of chanting protesters took to the streets in Syria's coastal city of Latakia, just hours after Assad delivered his speech.

Assad expressed regret for the violence and bloodshed that has killed and wounded dozens, but stopped short of apologizing. He noted that regional upheaval was in part responsible for developments in Syria, and denounced what he called foreign and domestic plots.

He said that Syria is facing a major conspiracy today, and that some of its threads stretch far, some near, and others are inside the country. He stressed that the conspiracy has been shaped both in its form and its timing by what is taking place in other Arab countries. He argued that plotters are mixing three elements: sectarian strife, reform and material needs, but that sectarian strife has taken the forefront.

Assad had been expected to announce a lifting of the state of emergency in place for the past 50 years. He did not do so, but said a draft bill on that - along with one on a multi-party system - was taking too long. Under the current emergency law, security forces have sweeping powers of arrest and detention.

He said that reforms announced Thursday did not begin from scratch, and have been under discussion for a while, especially formation of political parties. He added that other reforms will be announced when they have been discussed and ratified. He pointed out that the reforms deal with media laws, corruption, and unemployment.

Jihad Makdissi, spokesman for the Syrian Embassy in London, called Assad a “reformer” and insisted that he would live up to that expectation.

"I have enormous confidence that President Assad is a reformer and he believes in reform and he will deliver. He will be ending - he already announced this - the martial law that will allow Syrians to live under normal rule of law and at the same time it will allow us to avoid any abuse of power by anyone," said Makdissi.

Joshua Landis, who is director of the Center for Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University, called President Assad’s address Wednesday an “old-line speech,” pitting “us versus them," and outlining only vague compromises.

Assad came to power in 2000, following the death of his father, longtime former President Hafez al Assad. The younger Assad began his tenure with a vow to reform the political system, but quickly came under pressure from his entourage, and was forced to back down.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid