January 10, 2012
January 10, 2012
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the international conspiracy against his country was no longer masked, stressing that he would not give up his “responsibility.”
In his fourth public address since the country fell into turmoil, Assad said “international parties” were seeking to upset the stability in his country.
He accused Western media of fabricating reports about his country and repeated his past claims that a foreign conspiracy is behind the unrest and said: “Nobody is deceived anymore.”
“Regional and international parties who are trying to destabilize Syria can no longer falsify the facts and events,” the embattled leader said in a speech in Damascus.
“They turned to assassinations… with regional and international media coverage,” he said. “After all their attempts failed, the role of foreigners emerged.”
Assad hit out at the Arab League, which has had a widely criticized observer mission in Syriasince December 26 charged with overseeing a plan to end the violence.
He asked what right governments including the absolute monarchies of the Gulf had to lecture Syria about democracy or reform.
“The first parliament in Syria was in 1917. Where were they then?” he asked.
“Their situation is like a doctor who smokes and recommends to his patient to give up smoking while he, the doctor, has a cigarette in his mouth.”
Assad welcomed the idea of expanding the government to include “all political forces” and he said that he expected a referendum on a new constitution to take place in March.
“After legislation has been drawn up and a constitution… we will call a referendum… (maybe) in the first week of March.” he said, adding that it would be followed by a general election.
“Elections must be linked to a new constitution,” he said. “They could be at the start of May.”
H said he would tackle terrorism with an “iron fist,” in a speech that came just days after a Damascus suicide bombing killed 26 people.
“There can be no let-up for terrorism — it must be hit with an iron fist,” he said.
“The battle with terrorism is a battle for everyone, a national battle, not only the government’s battle.”
Assad has made few public appearances since the anti-government uprising began in March, inspired by the revolutions sweeping the Arab world. The regime’s crackdown on dissent has killed thousands and led to international isolation and sanctions.
By AL ARABIYA WITH AGENCIES