Assad in self-denial – By HASSAN BARARI
President Bashar Assad’s latest speech underscores one fact: This regime will do nothing to put an end to the ongoing bloody crisis.
If anything, the speech demonstrates that Assad is divorced from reality. After almost ten months of the deadly crackdown against his own people and after violence has ramped up claiming high number of innocent lives, Assad is still in self-denial.
The tone of his speech could not be more striking. Instead of taking responsibility and showing willingness to end the deadly crackdown on his own people, Assad only used excuses for not taking any positive step. This approach was tried unsuccessfully before in Libya and we all know how things ended.
It seems that the arrival of Arab League monitors did nothing to change the situation on the ground. Almost 400 people have been murdered since then. Not surprisingly, President Assad has reached a point of no return. On Tuesday, he vowed to crush the protesters with an iron fist. Therefore, his promise to continue reform did not resonate well with the Syrians.
His speech brought the wrath of many players, particularly the United States. Commenting on the speech, the State Department spokeswomen Victoria Nuland said, « Throughout the course of this speech, Assad manages to blame a foreign conspiracy that’s so vast with regard to the situation in Syria that it now includes the Arab League, most of the Syrian opposition, the entire international community. »
Explicit in his speech was that Damascus would offer only cosmetic changes with no intention to introduce sweeping concessions that could pacify protesters who would not be expected to accept anything short of bringing down the regime. Assad spared a few from his attack emphasizing that what has been taking place in Syria was driven by outside forces who conspire against his country. He does not seem to be in a position to understand the real causes behind protests in his own country. His scathing remarks touched all of his critics and those who tried to interfere to help put an end to the conflict. In his words, « The Arab League has failed for six decades to take a position in the Arab interest. »
The critique of the Arab stand was evident when 11 Arab monitors were injured in the city of Latakia. This attack coupled with the president’s verbal attack on the Arabs mean that the regime will not honor its obligations to protect the monitors. In other words, the regime has further deepened the crisis. If anything, his speech shows that the president is adamant in defeating what he calls « terrorists » before even thinking of reform. Undoubtedly, Assad is delusional as he thinks that everything that is taking place in Syria is nothing but a conspiracy against his regime. For that reason, many ponder as to the source of confidence that Assad projected in his speech. Perhaps, Russia is backing him. The general belief in Damascus is that either Russia or China would cast their veto in the Security Council to protect the Assad regime.
President Assad does not understand the role of media as he does not tolerate media coverage of events in Syria. To him, it is a mere media campaign that attacks his regime to undercut Syria. Interestingly, this is not the first time we see this happen. Other toppled autocrats last year resorted to the same tactics. First, they accused protesters of being nothing but a tool for a kind of Western conspiracy. Second, they resort to iron fist policy, and finally, they leave the scene in a disgraceful manner. It remains to be seen whether Assad will be facing the same destiny given the fact that he persistently lives in self-denial.
In brief, the speech is a reflection of a mindset that is dangerous. The regime’s ability to learn is modest as it insists on the heavy- handed approach regardless of thousands killed. His promise to prevail against his own people is pathetic; it only sends a clear message that this regime has no intention of stopping its war against the Syrian people. Although his defiant speech blasted the Arabs, the Arab League will wait until the 19th of this month when the monitors’ mission concludes its final report. As the report will most likely squarely blame the regime, it is not expected to come up with recommendations as to what the Arabs should further do. This indeed might open the door widely for internationalization of the conflict, a measure that has the potentials of exposing and emasculating the Syrian regime.