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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid