Wednesday, March 30, 2011
While Syria's protesters demand freedom, President has stark message for his people
By Robert Fisk
Thursday, 31 March 2011
"He was not a humble President. He did not give way. There were hints, of course – an end to emergency legislation, "reforms" – but when he spoke yesterday, trying to calm a crisis that has seen more than 60 people killed in a fortnight and threatens his very office, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria did not give the impression of a man on the run.
Was it Libya that gave him the "oomph" to go on, the encouragement to stand up and say that "reform is not a seasonable issue" – an accurate translation of his belief that Syria does not have to conform to the Middle East revolution? Either way, the Baath party is going to fight on. Assad remains the President of Syria. No change.
Well, of course, we shall see. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya is not a wise example to follow in time of need.....
Yet Syria has always remained a unitary state, and it has complied with the West's demands for security co-operation – until the Americans came across the border into Syria and shot up a Syrian security agent's house. So compliant has it been that the US actually sent a poor Canadian to Damascus – "renditioned", in the popular phrase – to be atrociously tortured and kept in a sewer until the Americans realised he was innocent and sheepishly allowed him to return to Toronto....."