Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Arab press critics maul Assad speech

From my press archives

Three leading Arab press commentators today give the thumbs down to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s “conspiracy” speech.

Abdallah Iskandar, writing for the Saudi daily al-Hayat, says Assad’s was a deliberative “oration” meant to energize his backers. “His primary target was to rally his home front as he defines it – namely, partisans and supporters directly linked to his regime.” They include people in the armed forces and the “shabiha” paramilitary, members of his administration and his cronies.

Tariq Alhomayed, chief editor of Saudi Asharq Alawsat, says Assad effectively articulated more than 11,000 words in one hour and 40 minutes to communicate a “plea” more than anything else – a plea by a man in self-denial. “His talk of Arabs, of Arabized Arabs and of everyone else was a solicitation detached from reality. His was an upgraded version of Moammar Gaddafi’s ‘zanka, zanka’ address.”

Abdelwahhab Badrakhan, writing for the Beirut daily an-Nahar, says Assad’s rude remarks about the Arab states shows “he dismisses the Arab League and its initiative calling for dialogue between the regime and its opponents. Damascus will thus stick to its own reform plan, the one exalted by Russia and Iran. It advocates dialogue by the regime with itself and with opposition groups created by the regime to serve its purposes.”