Syrian President Bashar Assad addressed his country Monday, expressing love, promising reforms and warning of a conspiracy while his troops block people from fleeing to Turkey.
Expressing the same paranoia of dictators who have been ousted or try to hang on to power in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and other Muslim countries, Assad said Syria is confronted by one of a series of conspiracies that “are like germs which increase every moment.”
Assad did not refer to the refugees, thousands of whom already have fled the country. Instead, he used his speech to pound home accusations that the opposition is responsible for “hideous massacres,” the same charge he faces and which has been backed by countless videos that leaked across the borders.
“People get paid to send pictures and pretend they are from Syria,” Assad insisted. “What is happening today has nothing to do with reform. It is sabotage.”
He spoke for more than an hour, and his statements that he will not quit but will implement reforms echoed similar comments by Hosni Mubarak days before he was forced out of power earlier this year.
Assad accused "a small faction of saboteurs" of trying to exploit legitimate demands for reform in the country. According to Assad, the “rebels” possess vehicle-mounted weapons that can bring down airplanes, and that the ”conspiracy” prevents him from instituting reforms.
Approximately 1,500 Syrian protesters have been gunned down by Syrian secret police and soldiers, and more than 10,000 have been detained, many of them having “disappeared.” Evidence has surfaced that Iran is supplying Assad with Revolutionary Guards.
As Assad spoke Monday, his troops continued to man the border with Turkey. "The Syrian army has spread around the border area to prevent frightened residents from fleeing across the border to Turkey," Syrian human rights activist Ammar al-Qurabi told Reuters.
Against demands by a growing number of Western nations, including Britain, that he implement reforms or step down, Assad concentrated on the need for a “national dialogue" while continuing to charge that the mass demonstrations against his regime actually are “killing operations [that were] terrifying the citizens, [and] destroying public and private properties, which took place during popular protests in which scores of citizens, security forces, policemen and armed forces were martyred or wounded.”