Syrian President Bashar Assad is expected to announce constitutional amendments and sweeping reforms, including the jettisoning of loathed state of emergency laws that give the regime carte blanche to arrest people without charges. On Tuesday, Assad fired his entire Cabinet.
Since March 18 more than 60 people have been killed in military crackdowns to put the lid on protests. Assad, though, promised his people security forces “would not attack protesters” and he did not give orders to attack them.
Concerning the bloody protests in the border city of Deraa Assad said:
“Is not in the heart of Syria it is in the hearts of Syrians. [Deraa] is in the forefront in confronting the Israeli enemy and defending the nation. No one can be defending and conspiring at the same timeâ€¦this cannot happen. The people of Deraa do not have any responsibility in what has happened. We are all with Deraaâ€¦Whoever is part of the Syrian nation always stands tallâ€¦Our enemies act every day in an organized and public matter in order to harm Syria.”
“Deraa is a county near the Israeli enemy. A man cannot defend his homeland while at the same time conspire against it, so the citizens of Deraa are not responsible for what happened.”
Assad added the protesters are “smart in their timing, but stupid by choosing a country that will not be defeated by any step.”
The Syrian president alluded to a mixture of “internal and foreign” factors influencing the protests. What he called the “domino effect” pursued by the “past administration in the United States,” saying the former US president’s intentions backfired and had the “opposite effect” for the region.
“What has happened so far only strengthens Syriaâ€¦The Syrian people are peaceful but will not hesitate to defend their causes and principles if he must.”
He blames the protests on “conspirators” who want to destroy the country and “enemies with an Israeli agenda.”
“Our enemies work every day in an organized and public fashion to hurt Syriaâ€¦Our enemies’ aim was to divide Syria as a country and force an Israeli agenda onto it, and they will continue to try and try again.”
Meanwhile, a recent exposÃ© by Champress, an Internet site with close ties to the regime, revealed that a covert Saudi-American plan was underway to topple Assad’s government. According to the report, the plan, which was first broadcast on the Iranian Arabic-language television station Al-Alam, was devised in 2008 by the Saudi national security advisor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Jeffrey Feltman, a veteran U.S. diplomat in the Middle East who was the erstwhile ambassador to Lebanon and currently assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs.