Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Syria after the speech | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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As I predicted yesterday, there was nothing new in the Syrian President’s speech, which in fact frustrated supporters of the regime more than its opponents, or observers keen on the safety of Syria. Everything that was said consisted of mere promises and implicit threats, and this discourse even burned bridges with Turkey, the last playing card of al-Assad’s regime. The language of the speech was not “we have decided to”, but rather “we promise”.

This language is of no use to a country in a real crisis, facing long overdue popular demands, which are not the product of a foreign plot. Continuing to use the language of treason and saboteurs will only fuel the fire in a society where 1,300 people have been killed so far, according to reports, and around 10,000 or more have been displaced, not to mention the thousands of detainees and thousands reported missing. Moreover, President al-Assad says that there are 64,000 Syrians that need to be brought to justice! This is a strange matter indeed. It is strange that the decision to suppress the protests in Syria was taken as soon as possible, while the issue of reform needs to be studied according to the President!

In summary of the President’s speech, there is no hope that the regime will respond to the demands of the people. Rather, it seems that the regime does not appreciate the gravity of what is happening in the Syrian state as a whole, especially when al-Assad said: “Even if the crisis went on for months or years, we should accommodate ourselves to it, we should corner it and make it limited to those who are concerned with the crisis”. Here we find the Syrian President repeating what Rami Makhlouf had said before him, but in a veiled reference, i.e. the regime will fight to the end. Consequently, we saw how the Syrians reacted immediately after al-Assad’s speech by demonstrating in a number of Syrian cities, including Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. They rejected al-Assad’s speech and its contents, and demanded the overthrow of the regime.

The same thing occurred abroad, where international reactions to al-Assad’s speech expressed great disappointment. Without doubt the Turks were the most frustrated, especially when President al-Assad said his country will become the model for the region, teaching others instead of taking lessons from them. This of course is a direct response to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when Ankara said that it had given the Syrian regime a dossier containing a plan for reform, and demanded that the regime cut ties with those close to it, with the Turks specifying names such as Rami Makhlouf and Maher al-Assad. Of course the Turkish response came quickly, from the mouth of the Turkish President [Abdullah Gul], who said that al-Assad’s speech was not enough.

Thus, after al-Assad’s speech yesterday Syria has entered a more complex and dangerous stage, especially for the defenseless citizens. The crisis of confidence between the citizen and the regime is real, especially with the failure of al-Assad’s regime to take, or implement even one concrete decision, whilst the President’s speech indicates that the regime will not back down on the use of force or repression. As already mentioned above, al-Assad said that the Syrians must adapt if the crisis continues for months or years, and perhaps this is rallying call to the businessmen and sectors of the Syrian economy which have begun to be adversely affected by the Syrian uprising.

It is now clear that Syria is far from any logical and peaceful conclusion. It has now been exposed to all possibilities, including the worst unfortunately.