Instant view: Syria's Assad tries to defuse discontent

Reuters News
|
Posted: Jun 20, 2011 9:50 AM
Instant view: Syria's Assad tries to defuse discontent

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday political reforms would stabilize Syria and defuse popular grievances.

Following are comments from political analysts, the Syrian opposition and independent figures on the speech in Damascus, Assad's third since the uprising demanding political freedoms and an end to his autocratic rule erupted in March.

MOHAMMED AL-MASRI, JORDANIAN POLITICAL ANALYST

"Bashar al-Assad is misreading history. He does not realize what is happening in Syria. This speech needs a psychologist to comprehend, not a political analyst. What Bashar doesn't realize is that despite all this intense bloody repression, the Syrian people have reached a conclusion that dialogue is too late and that they must change this regime and resolve all the sectarian strife this regime has perpetuated.

"The Syrian people have proved to Bashar that they are above the sectarianism that the regime has practiced and, through their peaceful popular movement, were able to restore the national pride the regime had denied them for decades."

SYRIAN WRITER HAKAM AL-BABA

"Bashar al-Assad did not offer anything new. He tried to act as if Syria was undergoing a process of reform while the regime's brutal killings continue."

MULHEM DRUBI, SYRIAN MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD LEADER

"A theoretical speech as always. He repeated old promises that do not offer a solution and are not implemented on the ground. He kept on saying Syria was subject to conspiracies that he likened to germs. He has been giving promises since day one. The street will continue its march toward freedom.

"He promised to hold the killers accountable. But the killers are his relatives and clique. First among them is his brother Maher, then the rest of the security apparatus."

SYRIAN OPPOSITION FIGURE WALID AL-BUNNI

"Very disappointing speech. The regime has no realization that this is a mass street movement demanding freedom and dignity. Assad has not said anything to satisfy the families of the 1,400 martyrs or the national aspiration of the Syrian people for the country to become a democracy."

LABIB KAMHAWI, JORDANIAN POLIITCAL ANALYST

"This was not as a result of a genuine disposition toward reform. The timing also appeared to be a move to appease Turkey and it was a tacit acquiescence that people had the right to express their grievances.

"He was confessing that the regime committed a lot of mistakes and that corruption and tough security measures were used against the Syrian people. I believe he wanted to put the icing on the cake and show he had democratic inclinations and wanted to assure people he was serious.

"Bashar al-Assad was confessing that there was a lack of confidence in the regime. He did not offer enough assurances to comfort the Syrian people."

OUSSAMA SAFA, LEBANESE ANALYST

"What he is offering is too little, too late. For the Syrian opposition, he has lost legitimacy."

"He should have taken drastic measures, like putting some people on trial, introduce an immediate change to provide a major concession, shut down a few intelligence agencies, fire some people and issue presidential decrees. This would have helped.

"But now to offer dialogue ... does not work, it is too late."

HILAL KHASHAN, POLITICAL SCIENTIST AT THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT

"He was trying to placate his Turkish neighbor by giving a timetable. He did not spell out the reforms. He does not seem much concerned about his people. He is concerned about Turkey and the West."

"He wants the international campaign against him to subside and his Turkish neighbor (to calm down)." 0

LOCAL COORDINATION COMMITTEES, A SYRIAN ACTIVISTS' GROUP

"It was a repetition of unrealized promises, veiled threats and false accusations made in past speeches. The speech did not come near to addressing the crisis that Syria has been living through for the last three months and the national aspirations to transform the country into a free multi-party democracy."

ABDULLAH ABA ZAID, CIVIC LEADER FROM CITY OF DERAA

"This is a regime that is incapable of reforming and is a gang that runs this country by brutal repressions, and when he speaks about a conspiracy he is in fact the one who is conspiring against the Syrian people.

"Bashar and his family don't have the legitimacy to decide the reforms the Syrian people are denied a say in shaping. We didn't expect anything from this speech. Just as Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali (of Tunisia) and Hosni Mubarak (of Egypt) fell after the third speech, we are hopeful this will be the speech that will bring his downfall."

(Additional reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi, Mariam Karouny and Dominic Evans: Writing by Khaled Yacoub Oweis)