Assad blames ‘conspirators’ for Syria unrest

March 17, 2011 - 0:0

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has blamed “conspirators” for two weeks of anti-government protests that have rocked the nation.

In his first address to the nation since the start of protests, Assad said Syria was going through a “test of unity”.
“I belong to the Syrian people, and whoever belongs to the Syrian people will always keep his head high,” he said in the televised address before members of parliament in the capital, Damascus, on Wednesday.
“I know that the Syrian people have been awaiting this speech since last week, but I was waiting to get the full picture... to avoid giving an emotional address that would put the people at ease but have no real effect, at a time when our enemies are targeting Syria,” he said.
Assad entered parliament to a mass of cheering crowds outside the building. Once inside, legislators chanted “God, Syria and Bashar only!’’ and “our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you Bashar.’’
He said “conspirators” have tried to reinforce sectarianism to incite hatred and “bring down Syria”.
Al Jazeera’s Cal Perry, reporting from Damascus said the address is “without a doubt the most important speech of
[Assad’s] career”.
“People want to see an end to corruption. But on the street, people are also saying ‘We want to see reforms, but we want to see Bashar al-Assad stay in power’,” our correspondent said.
Assad was expected to use the address to discuss a string of reforms announced last week, amid a wave of dissent and protests demanding more freedoms. But he failed to elaborate on any such reforms.
The speech came a day after the country’s cabinet resigned.
The 32-member cabinet will continue running the country’s affairs until the formation of a new government.
(Source: Al Jazeera)