Arab League, shmarab league. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is evidently still unwilling to make room for the possibility that he is in anything resembling a precarious position, as he made a defiant speech on Tuesday in Damascus, blaming foreign media for making him look bad and dissing the Arab League. —KA
AP via ABC News:
“Our priority now is to regain security in which we basked for decades, and this can only be achieved by hitting the terrorists with an iron hand,” Assad said in a nearly two-hour speech to a cheering crowd packed with well-dressed supporters at Damascus University. “We will not be lenient with those who work with outsiders against the country.”
By turns defiant and threatening, Assad has refused to give in to the most serious threat to his family’s 40-year dynasty in Syria. He showed a steely confidence in his speech even as opposition forces said he was dangerously out of touch.
Assad, 46, also lashed out at the Arab League, saying the Cairo-based bloc failed to protect Arab interests. The League has suspended Syria and sent a team of monitors to assess whether the regime is abiding by an Arab-brokered peace plan that Assad agreed to on Dec. 19. The moves were humiliating for Syria, which considers itself a powerhouse of Arab nationalism.