News / Middle East

Syrian President Begins Third Term

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad reviews a guard of honor before his swearing-in for a new seven-year term at the presidential palace in Damascus, July 16, 2014, in this picture released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad reviews a guard of honor before his swearing-in for a new seven-year term at the presidential palace in Damascus, July 16, 2014, in this picture released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
Edward Yeranian

Syrian President Bashar al Assad took the oath of office Wednesday for a third seven year term in office, amid a three-year-old civil war across much of the country.

Unlike his two previous ceremonies, President Assad took the oath of office at the presidential palace, rather than in front of parliament.  Several analysts suggest the move was made for security reasons.

Assad succeeded his father as president in 2000 and has weathered a brutal and bitter conflict for the past three years.  The Syrian president struck a tone of confidence, blasting his enemies inside and outside the country.

He insists Arab and Western countries that have supported his opponents, whom he calls “terrorists,” will soon pay a price for that support.

Assad also thanked his close allies, Russia, China, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah group for helping his government.  He said his allies support the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of a U.N. member state, which is part of the U.N. Charter.

The embattled Syrian president also thanked those he called the “honorable” Syrian people for voting for him, insisting it was their response to the Arab Spring slogan that the people “want the downfall of the regime.”  

Assad complained the fighting in Syria had devastated the country's economy, ruining its once vibrant tourism business, despoiling its infrastructure, including electricity stations, gas pipelines and oil fields in the north and east of the country.  “But,” he said,”if the price Syria has paid is high, then our achievements in the future will be even higher.”

Syria scholar Joshua Landis heads the University of Oklahoma Middle East studies department.  He says Assad sounded confident, because things have been going his way lately.

"His military campaigns have been by and large successful, whether it is in the Qalamoun region in shutting off the Lebanese back door to rebels, whether it is in retaking Homs, surrounding neighborhoods in Damascus and Aleppo.  He is well on his way to retaking Aleppo, Syria's northern capital.  So, he has struck a tone of confidence,” said Landis.

But Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis chief Riad Kahwaji told VOA Assad was living in a world that is “delusional.”

“[Assad] is still talking about Syria as if nothing is really happening.  He does not acknowledge that there is a civil war happening ... does not want to acknowledge that a large chunk of the country is out of control, out of his control, and that he is in virtual isolation and that more than half of the Syria [electorate] did not even have the chance to vote or have a say in this last election,” said Kahwaji.

American University of Beirut political scientist Hilal Khashan said Assad was profiting from the “protracted conflict in his country and that he “seems to enjoy it” because it “keeps him in power.”  Khashan argued the Syria conflict was “not likely to end any time soon,” and Assad may well be in power for a long time to come. 

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Press Freedom

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
July 16, 2014 11:10 AM
From Red Line to Red Carpet ,now who would believe in western support for freedom?? Too bad for the FSA and a disappointment to those that say Assad is closer to his ouster! Guess a country is only a superpower when it has a leader that stands on a good will and not waiting on his congress that will obviously politicize the matter while saving his term without war only to leave a greater war for upcoming leaders.

by: meanbill from: USA
July 16, 2014 10:28 AM
NO MATTER what the western propaganda says, Assad is a super Syrian patriot, with the overwhelming support of the Syrian people...... (and only God knows why), the US, EU, and NATO, and the Sunni Muslim monarchies, decided to arm and train tens of thousands of "foreign" Sunni Muslim fighters in Jordan and Turkey, to wage war on the Shia Muslim led governments of Syria, and Iraq.... not knowing it'd stoke sectarian violence, killings, destruction and war, in most of the Islamic Middle Eastern countries?

The US, EU, and NATO, and the Sunni Muslim monarchies, have stoked these sectarian atrocities and wars in Syria and Iraq, and now spreading to the bordering countries, by arming and training "foreign" Sunni Muslim fighters in Jordan and Turkey, (not to bring freedom or democracy to the people of Syria or Iraq), but just to wage war, and kill those of different religions, in Syria and Iraq. why they did it?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs