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A political analyst with the Saudi-owned newspaper AL HAYAT rejected Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's labeling of public protests against his regime as "terrorism." "The Syrian president appeared calm, confident and optimistic in his speech yesterday before an audience who were not good in choosing the time for clapping. They clapped after he launched an attack on the Arab League, saying it merely reflected the miserable Arab situation. This attack has canceled the Arab initiative and its provisions," Randa Takieddine said in an editorial on Jan. 11. As in his interview with American journalist Barbara Walters, she said, Assad's speech contained "a denial of the reality of Syrian popular protests demanding freedom and a better life and concentrated instead on his war against terrorism."

In a speech lasting nearly two hours Tuesday, Assad blamed what he called "a foreign conspiracy" for 10 months of public protests against his 11-year rule, vowing to restore order and strike terrorism with an "iron fist." He also slammed some members of the Arab League as serving foreign interests and defended his conduct in dealing with the unrest in Syria. "The foreign conspiracy is no longer a secret to anyone because what was planned behind closed doors is now clear before the people," Assad said in his fourth public speech since the uprising began in March 2011.

"Assad's sharp criticism of the [Arab] League indicates his annulment of any meaning of the mission of Arab observers before they submit a report on their assessment of the situation [in Syria]. As if he was facilitating the call for internationalization [of the Syrian crisis] as demanded by the opposition and some League members and Big Western states," Takieddine said. "The situation in Syria is heading for more violence, more victims and more economic collapse as a result of international and Arab pressures. Internally, the Syrian pound is weak and trade exchange is weak," she added. "The attitude of the Syrian regime, like the attitude of its allies in Lebanon, is a denial of the reality of a real revolution for freedom," Takieddine said.
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Title Annotation:ARAB OPINIONS
Publication:The Weekly Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Jan 13, 2012
Previous Article:Syria-Arabs.
Next Article:Syria-opposition.

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