Following the example of Saif Gaddafi, Bashar Al-Assad sheds reformist guise.
This was it. Today was Bashar Al-Assad’s long-awaited moment to settle the decade-long debate on his so-called crypto-reform impulses. And he did. But in doing so, he dashed the hopes of his own supporters, further alienated the large segment of the population still considering its options, and hardened the stand of protesters.
Minutes after Assad finishes his speech, protesters in Daraa and Lattakia chanted for freedom and called for toppling the regime d Bashar’s ouster. Security forces immediately opened fire on protesters in Lattakia leaving one dead and a 10-year old boy fighting for his life. The Twitterverse became abuzz by statements of bafflements and amazements from Assad sympathizers, lending credence to assertions by Syrian activists that the ranks will swell with new recruits and that the revolution will continue.
All eyes are now fixed on next Friday when waves of protests are expected to hit the country. Judging from Assad’s speech, violence seems inevitable. But the protesters refused to be intimidated and seem intent on taking the struggle to its logical conclusion. The glove has been thrown, the die has been cast, this is about regime change, because regime change seems to be the only way out of the Lion’s Den.
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