As had long been predicted, Syrian President Bashar Assad indeed delivered his Wednesday address on the growing unrest in his nation. But while the speech was expected to be a plea for order and a promise of myriad reforms, it was instead a defiant moment.
No reforms at all were detailed in the speech, broadcast across the nation. Instead he said that the massive protests were part of “an Israeli agenda” and fomented by a broad foreign conspiracy against his continued rule. .
In reality, of course, the protests didn’t start as anything so grandiose. The first rallies were miniscule, and only swelled into a threat to Assad’s rule after violent crackdowns by local security forces provoked growing numbers of people into the streets.
But Assad is in strong company in blaming foreign conspiracies for the protest movement in his nation, following a recent trend by other nations like Yemen and Bahrain seeing growing backlashes against authoritarian rule. In the absence of offering real reforms, it seems most rulers in the region are content to simply invent a plot.