A week ago, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad proclaimed the imminent cancellation of the much-hated emergency law. As one Facebook dissident wrote, “Syrians want to cancel the law of Assad because it is causing the emergency.”
This week, in his first public appearance since the uprisings erupted, Assad delivered a speech before the Syrian parliament — to allege that the demonstrations are nothing but a foreign conspiracy to destabilize Syria.
This after two weeks during which some 200 hundred Syrians have been gunned down in cold blood, several hundred have been injured, and up to 5,000 activists for freedom and human rights have been detained under abhorrent prison conditions.
Though the speech centered on reforms, it dodged them more than any time in the past. There were no specifics. There was no timeline. And there was no clear commitment to any implementations. Assad went so far as to claim that “99.9% of the people complain about their salaries or jobs, that’s all.”
So far, every Syrian who died for his freedom has died in vain.
On display this week was the same fatuously arrogant Assad the world is familiar with — deflecting blame and eluding responsibility for the massacres he committed against his people, the same way he evasively denied killing American soldiers in Iraq.
In an apparent shock, thousands of Syrians filled the streets of Damascus this week in support of Assad. Amongst them were the Rent-A-Crowd, the Scare-A-Crowd, and the Fool-A-Crowd. The last group, which constituted the absolute majority of demonstrators, embodied real opposition to Assad. They hit the streets to celebrate what they thought was their success in forcing through the reform package Assad announced under pressure a few days before. This week, they realize their triumphalism put faith in a lie.
If we have to find one central cause to Assad’s re-emergence as Iran’s agent and promoter of terror and violence in the Middle East, we will find it during an appearance, on March 21, of Secretary Clinton on Face the Nation. There, she threw Assad a lifeline by ruling out military intervention. “Each of these situations is unique,” she declared. Syrians never asked for military intervention. But ruling it out was all it took for the world to realize Assad has just been given a new lease on terror.