Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 31, 2011 / 25 Adar II, 5771

Out loud, Syrian president blames conspiracies for unrest, remains vague on reforms

By Jeffrey Fleishman





What Assad believes and knows


JewishWorldReview.com |

cAIRO — (MCT) Invoking the steely determination of his brutal father, President Bashar Assad blamed foreign conspiracies for Syria's unrest in a highly awaited speech Wednesday that sought to brace his family's 40-year dynasty against a rebellion similar to those that have left governments reeling across the Middle East and Northern Africa.

It was to have been a defining moment for a president confronting a revolt in the provinces and power struggles within his inner circle. But Assad, who has cast himself as both a visionary and the tough son of his late father, Hafez, made no dramatic promises and refused to lift a long-standing emergency law limiting civil liberties as a concession to end nearly two weeks of bloodshed.

The speech instead alluded to well-worn charges of conspiracy theories, media distortion and the hidden hand of Israel for sparking uprisings that have resulted in security forces killing more than 60 protesters. Assad said the reforms demonstrators are demanding, including abolishing the emergency law and allowing wider political freedoms, were among existing proposals that may be passed later this year.

That vagueness epitomizes the strategy of leaders across the region who have struggled to hang on to power, some more successfully than others, against waves of protest. Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sent out a flurry of hazy pledges for reform days before he was forced to resign. Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh is plying a similar approach as protests intensify for him to step down.

But perhaps more so than some of its neighbors, Syria suffuses intrigue into its politics. As he spoke, Assad sounded like a spymaster spinning scenarios of foreign interlopers, leveling suspicion and derision on Israel and the U.S. However, he did not identify any specific plots, except to say that conspirators were communicating through phone texting.

"Syria is a target of a big plot from the outside … its timing, its format has been speeded up," said Assad, as Syrians nationwide gathered around television sets at homes and in town squares. He said some protesters have been "duped" into the streets.


FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO INFLUENTIAL NEWSLETTER

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.


"I had the feeling I was listening to his father. Nothing's changed," said Randa Habib, a Jordanian writer and political analyst. "It's as if we're in an era of 30 years ago when Israelwas to blame for everything. I think these dictators in the region must go to the same school. He was arrogant, cut off from reality."

When he mentioned reforms, Assad, 45, said he has been pushing for them since he succeeded his father, who seized power in 1970 and led Syria until his death in 2000. Many Syrians, at that time, believed the British-educated eye doctor turned president would herald a freer, more politically open era. But Assad told the nation Wednesday that regional turmoil, including wars in Iraq and Lebanon, had slowed the pace of change.

"There are no hurdles to reforms, but there are delays," said Assad, who received a standing ovation when he entered Parliament. He acknowledged that the Syrian people do have legitimate "demands that have not been met. … Sometimes we failed in marketing our ideas."

Referring to revolutions this year in Egypt and Tunisia, he added: "If we stay without reform we are on the course of destruction."

But he offered no details and did not — as many were anticipating — repeal the emergency law that has kept his Baathist Party in power since a 1963 revolution. The president, who during the protests has shifted between crackdowns and appeasement, such as offers to raise salaries and investigate police brutality, said, "It is my responsibility to secure the stability of the nation."

The speech did not calm protests that have flared in the north and south but have yet to threaten the capital, Damascus. Media reports said police opened fire as hundreds of protesters marched in the northwestern city of Latakia. Another test for the regime is expected Friday when anti-government demonstrators have called for large rallies across the country. They are likely to be met by crowds of pro-Assad demonstrators whose recent appearances have looked carefully choreographed.

Assad's address came a day after the Cabinet was dissolved, an indication many Syrians hoped was a signal of bold measures to prevent a slide into chaos. But Assad appeared confident in his security forces and in his insistence that he is committed to reforms and would not be intimidated by protesters in the streets of Dara and Latakia.

"He clearly feels cocky and very much in control of the situation," said Andrew Tabler, a Syrian expert and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "U.S. officials who have been trying to engage Bashar are probably very disappointed. Everybody thought Bashar was ready to start a new movement … and clearly that didn't happen."

Assad believes the revolutionary fervor sweeping the region "doesn't need to be followed because Syria doesn't suffer from the same problems," said Ahmad Moussalli, a political science professor at the American University in Beirut. "He was rejecting the American domino theory, saying it doesn't work in the case of Syria."

Assad, however, faces tremendous internal pressures. Over the years, he has either won over or eliminated the old guard that served his father. He governs with a tight circle of family and clan members tied to military and security services, including his brother, Maher, head of the Presidential Guard.

The country faces dangers from high poverty, limited opportunities for the young, and a diverse sectarian mix. Assad's Alawite clan is a minority in a predominately Sunni Muslim country. He needs the support of Sunni businessmen and tribesmen. Those ties may be tested if the demonstrations, which began in the southern city Dara after youths were arrested for spraying anti-government graffiti, increase in intensity across the country.

His father put down a 1982 uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Hama by unleashing security forces that killed more than 10,000 people. Assad, so far, has attempted to contain protests with a blend of limited force and concessions.

"I'm afraid his speech means there may be a tightening up by the government and there may be more clashes and bloodshed," said Jordanian analyst Habib. "He has promised nothing to the protesters. He's provoking them."

Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Comment by clicking here.

© 2011, Los Angeles Times Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.