As Assad addressed parliament, he became visibly unwell and had to pause for minutes, claiming to have suffered a mild issue due to low blood pressure.
Rabat – Syrian President Bashar Al Assad was forced on August 12 to halt a speech to the People’s Council of Syria, the country’s parliament, after becoming visibly unwell. The event caused him to pause for several minutes before he eventually finished his address.
Assad’s office claimed the president suffers from a “mild” case of low blood pressure that led to the stumble. The speech was not broadcast live, but Assad’s Facebook page announced it would air later on Wednesday, August 12.
The speech marked the opening session of parliament, following the repeatedly postponed 2020 parliamentary elections that aimed to strengthen the regime’s claim to power.
A bomb attack in Busra al-Harir on election day marred the elections. Assad’s Baath party won 177 seats out of a total of 250, with a turnout of just 33%.
Few had expected any political opposition against Assad’s regime to emerge following the country’s brutal civil war. Fears over COVID-19 infection, violence, and intimidation caused many to stay home. Most external observers described the election as a farce.
Assad would want to project strength in his speech. He is mired in scandal after palace intrigue between the Assad and Makhlouf clans became increasingly public. After fighting a brutal civil war, it appears Assad is now attempting to centralize power in Damascus.
New Russian influence on the Assad family, and public tensions between Assad’s wife and his cousin Rami Makhlouf, have marked a year of scandal and intrigue. The events coincide with new US sanctions that aim to cripple the Syrian economy.
Becoming unwell during a speech will serve as a blow to Assad’s aspirations, and it remains to be seen if footage of the episode will feature in the broadcasted version of the speech.