Last updated: 10 January, 2012

Syria rebels: Assad speech incitement to violence

The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) branded Tuesday’s keynote address by President Bashar al-Assad an “incitement to violence,” indicating “more criminal behaviour” by the regime.

“There is incitement to violence, incitement to civil strife, some talks about sectarian divisions which the regime itself has fomented and encouraged,” said Basma Qadmani, a member of the SNC, the largest opposition umbrella group.

In a speech lasting almost two hours, Assad blamed foreign plotters for 10 months of protests against his regime and said his government would tackle terrorism with an “iron fist”.

“Our concern today is that such a speech is quite indicative of the total dismissal by the regime of the international community,” Qadmani said at a press conference in Istanbul.

“And that is an indication that we are going in the direction of more irresponsible and more criminal behaviour by the regime in the coming days and weeks.”

Qadmani also said Assad’s speech indicated that the regime “is breaking up with the Arab League,” which has sent observers to Syria in a bid to try to halt the bloodshed that the UN says has killed over 5,000 people.

“This is a turning point, a rupture with its Arab environment,” she added in remarks in English.

“The word democracy has hardly appeared in this discourse, we have seen much speech about reforms but we haven’t heard of any progress at any level since 11 months and the beginning of the revolution.”

Assad’s speech came hours before the UN Security Council was due to discuss the bloodshed in the country.

Qadmani called the UN to take action to stop killings.

“Our next step therefore is to go in a speedy way to the Security Council with the support of the Arab countries which are now convinced that this regime has not cooperated during the (Arab League) mission and is quite unlikely to cooperate in any manner,” she said.

“This is a message that members of the Security Council should carefully read and understand that by preventing decisive action by the council … the regime is encouraged to continue its crimes,” she said.

The SNC hit out at the Arab League over their report which said the “killing has been reduced” and had recommended that a team of Arab monitors continue their mission.