President Assad addresses the parliament, offers no concrete reforms and blames foreign conspiracies for the unrest sweeping the nation.
الاسد يخاطب مجلس الشعب بدون الافصاح عن اي اصلاحات جديدة
from ALjazeera English:
From the opening remarks of the speech and a further near dozen times, President Assad referred to the “conspiracy”, “plots” and “sabotage” targeting Syria from outside, of which the protests for change which have centred in the southern city of Daraa, “a border area”, were a part.
“Thousands of people contacted me – top officials, deputy ministers, sons of ambassadors – saying, ‘You should expect big reform, you will be amazed’,” said Ayman Abdel Nour, a former Baath party reformer, now editor-in-chief of the All4Syria news agency. “After the speech they were all shocked. No-one dared write anything back to me.”
Abdel Nour said the president’s original speech had been scheduled for two days earlier but a decision was made to wait until the army and security forces could pacify Lattakia and Daraa, the scene of the largest anti-regime protests.
“He received a report from the head of intelligence and the army saying ‘We have finished, everything is calm and we are the winner.’ He then re-wrote the original speech late into the night.”
“The regime rules through ambiguity. It is not capable of reform, that’s a simple fact of life,” said Andrew Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who spent eight years working in Syria as a journalist and is the author of an upcoming book on the country.
Wissam Tarif, a founding member of Insan, a human rights, democracy and development agency, who is currently gathering reporting in Syria said Assad had only thrown fuel on the fire of the anti-regime protests.
“Assad announced himself a dictator. He did not address the nation, he addressed the regime,” said Tarif. “People are angry and will continue to be angry.”
Protest erupt after the disappointing speech ends in Lattakia and security forces fire on the protesters, with reports of several deaths. مظاهلاات تنطلق في اللاذقية عقب الخطاب المحبط وقوى الامن تطلق النار وانباء عن عدة قتلى