Syrian President Bashar Assad
spoke at the Damascus University on Tuesday, in his first speech since he agreed to an Arab League
plan to halt the government's crackdown on dissents.
Assad stressed that he will not step down, as he "still has the Syrian people's support. When I leave office it will be by the will of the people." The regime's victory "is near, as long as the Syrian people remain steadfast," he vowed.
The Syrian president claimed that a "foreign conspiracy" was causing the unrest in his country but was failing. The civil unrest in Syria
was a test of the country's national resilience, he added: "Outside forces did not find a foothold in the revolution that they had hoped for... Nobody is deceived anymore."
He further claimed that it was his idea to send observers to Syria "to find out the truth... Syria will not close doors to Arab solutions," he continued, as long as "they respect Syria's sovereignty."
Has the people's support? Assad (Screenshot)
Other Arab governments, "including the absolute monarchies of the Gulf," have no right to "lecture Syria about democracy or reform," he said. "The first parliament in Syria was in 1917. Where were they then? Their situation is like a doctor who smokes and recommends to his patient to give up smoking while he, the doctor, has a cigarette in his mouth."
Assad defended Damascus' decision to ban foreign media reporting inside the country, saying that "at the beginning of the unrest all media had been allowed to work freely... but, fabrications from inside convinced us to apply some control on it."
As for the demands for political reform, Assad said that the Syrian government "welcomes participants from all political parties and is ready to start dialogue with the opposition… but some opposition groups are not ready.
"What takes place in Syria is part of the design made in the region decades ago… the defeat of Syria means the fall of the super power and the fall of the whole regions," he said.
"I'm optimistic and reassured about the future… Our top priority now is to restore security, the security you have been enjoying for years. This requires an Iron fist against terrorism. The fight of terrorist is a national battle – sedition is worse than killing, it dooms us to all to failure."
The regime's crackdown on dissent has killed thousands and led to international isolation and sanctions. Assad asserted past claims that Syrian security forces were never issued orders to shoot citizens.
Syria's opposition on Monday denounced the Arab League for taking a step backwards in the country and called on the United Nations to take charge in efforts to end the regime’s bloody crackdown on protesters.
AP and Reuters contributed to this
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