Assad speaks while Russia acts

posted at 12:31 pm on January 6, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

A defiant Bashar Assad addressed his turbulent nation in public for the first time in almost two years, defying the Western powers he claims is fueling the civil war against the Assad regime that has gripped Syria for more than 40 years.  However, the real action against the West came from Assad’s key ally Russia, which has moved forces into Syria as a warning to NATO to keep out, according to the Times of Israel:

A flotilla of five Russian warships laden with hundreds of troops, which is headed toward Syria, is a show of force meant to deter Western armies from intervening in the war-torn nation, the London-based Sunday Times reported.

Previous reports cited Russian diplomats to the effect that the vessels were being put in place in order to evacuate thousands of Russians who still remain in Syria if the situation in the country called for it.

However, a Russian intelligence source was quoted on Sunday as saying that the presence of over 300 marines on the ships was meant as a deterrent to keep countries hostile to the Bashar Assad regime — a key ally of the Kremlin — from landing special forces in the country.

“Russia should be prepared for any developments, as it believes the situation in Syria might reach its peak before Easter,” a Russian diplomatic source was quoted as saying.

The ships are headed to the port of Tartus, where Russia has been operating a naval facility since signing an agreement with Bashar Assad’s father, Hafez, in 1971.

Vladimir Putin has learned a few things from the last 20-plus years.  In the two invasions of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which at the time was a big client of Russia and its arms production, Moscow relied on diplomatic maneuvers to hold off the US/UK-led coalitions — and ended up looking impotent.  Putin himself tried to do the same thing with Libya, and had the same record of success.  This time, Putin isn’t going to rely on diplomatic niceties; he’s sending a message that Russia will not brook the kind of interventions the West has conducted over the last generation with another one of its client states.

This is a double-dog dare that may not deter the West if it decides to intervene … but will certainly complicate those calculations.  It’s a lot more effective than Assad’s bluster, which communicated nothing particularly new, but corroborated the general prevailing view that Assad hasn’t reached the point where he’s looking for a golden parachute:

Appearing in an opera house in central Damascus packed with cheering supporters, the Syrian leader delivered his first speech to an audience since June last year, and his first public comments since a television interview in November.

He unveiled what he described as a peace initiative to end the 21-month-old uprising. But the proposal, including a reconciliation conference that would exclude “those who have betrayed Syria“, was certain to be rejected by enemies who have already said they will not negotiate unless he leaves power.

He spoke confidently for about an hour before a crowd of cheering loyalists, who occasionally interrupted him to shout and applaud, at one point raising their fists and chanting: “With blood and soul we sacrifice for you, O Bashar!”

At the end of the speech, supporters rushed to the stage, mobbing him and shouting: “God, Syria and Bashar is enough!” as a smiling Assad waved and was escorted from the hall.

His offer is pretty much the same one he offered last year — a peace conference with promises of reform and a new constitution, but with Assad running the entire show.  Even when he first made that proposal, the only people who gave Assad any credibility as a “reformer” mostly worked for the US State Department.  Even Putin would have to laugh at that; they’re not propping up Assad so he can hand power off to radicals in another rigged election, one going in an opposite direction of Russian interests.  They want him to keep his grip on power, or they wouldn’t be sending special forces into Syria to help him keep it.

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Can someone tell me why people say Hillary Clinton was an awesome Secretary of State?

rob verdi on January 6, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Reset.

Bmore on January 6, 2013 at 12:37 PM

against the Assad regime that has gripped Syria for more than 40 years.

Gripped? Has any other Muslim country had a leadership that did not “grip” it? It is how Islam operates if you are observant. You imply that Syria has been held back from something fairer. Islam rules the same way everywhere it can.

Let the Sunni and Shia fight forever uninterrupted. Sure, a future Mohammed Atta may not survive but we are unlikely to lose the next Einstein, Shakespeare or even a Bill Clinton. Stop backing the Sunnis everywhere. Stop kissing Soddy balls.

BL@KBIRD on January 6, 2013 at 12:43 PM

He spoke confidently for about an hour before a crowd of cheering loyalists, who occasionally interrupted him to shout and applaud, at one point raising their fists and chanting: “With blood and soul we sacrifice for you, O Bashar!”

Similar to what happens here when O speaks to unions…
“There will be blood…..”
“We are your civilian army….”

Electrongod on January 6, 2013 at 12:44 PM

If Russia wants to embrace this tarbaby, well good for them.

Rebar on January 6, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Speaking of dictators: Who’s for repealing the 22nd Amendment?

http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-joint-resolution/15/text

Philly on January 6, 2013 at 12:49 PM

@ rob verdi on January 6, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Things like this perhaps:

“I remember landing under sniper fire,” Clinton declared.

Yet could not recall scat to what happend to Rose Law firm records eventually located in her WH quarters with her finger prints all over them….

and just wait til she miss-remembers that guy:

Ben-”whatshisface”-Ghazi.

Smart Diplomacy. Indeed.

RealMc on January 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Can someone tell me why people say Hillary Clinton was an awesome Secretary of State?

rob verdi on January 6, 2013 at 12:34 PM

This morning on “This Week With George Snuffleupagus” everyone was bending over backwards to say how hard Hillary works, e.g., “the hardest working person I know”, etc. They make the classic mistake of confusing effort with results. That is, unless your goal is to take the United States down a notch or two in the world; in that case, she has wildly succeeded.

yubley on January 6, 2013 at 1:05 PM

What did Assface say, “Willllbuuuurrrr, open the dooorrrr.”

Take it, Russia, that dumphole is all yours.

Bishop on January 6, 2013 at 1:07 PM

There is a terrible brutal truth in Syria that few American’s want to look at.

Is Bashar Assad a cruel sadistic dictator, you’re damned right he is. However, in a convoluted twisted turn of fate, Bashar Assad is also the good guy in the Civil War in Syria.

Who are the rebels in Syria, they are Al Qaeda and their Parent terrorists organization The Muslim Brotherhood.

Don’t allow yourself to be confused about this, Arab Muslims have no desire for or respect for the Western concept of democracy. What most westerners totally 100 percent fail to understand is that under Islam, there can be no separation of Church and State.

Islam is by it’s very nature, both Religious and Political, and cannot be separated. The Arab Islamic version of democracy is that every male Arab Muslim get’s to vote one time for his favorite dictator, who also just happens to be his favorite Islamic Cleric or his favorite Cleric’s hand puppet.

Bashar Assad has been an even handed tyrant, a secular tyrant even. Is he a good guy by western standards, hell no. But then again, he isn’t a western ruler either. Islamic Arabs don’t want western styled democracy, they want Sharia Law.

Bashar Assad has kept Syria a relatively stable and peaceful nation, no small feat to accomplish in the Arab world where murder and betrayal are how individuals advance through their society.

SWalker on January 6, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Speaking of dictators: Who’s for repealing the 22nd Amendment?

http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-joint-resolution/15/text

Philly on January 6, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Never saw that one coming.

VegasRick on January 6, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Philly on January 6, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Not sure if the odds are good for it even going to a vote let alone passing but the fact that it was even proposed and introduced is pretty unsettling.

As for Russia, I’m just waiting for the act of appeasement from Obama that’ll give him an excuse to be “flexible” with them.

Yakko77 on January 6, 2013 at 1:22 PM

This is a double-dog dare that may not deter the West if it decides to intervene … but will certainly complicate those calculations. It’s a lot more effective than Assad’s bluster, which communicated nothing particularly new, but corroborated the general prevailing view that Assad hasn’t reached the point where he’s looking for a golden parachute

Deter? I would say stop it cold. Our usual routine of late has typically been to send in either CIA operatives or Special Forces teams (SEALS, Beret, SAS) prior to any heavier handed methods. Well for them to be effective due to their small size is to have an effective free hand with the opposition locals. Well such teams can’t be effective if they has to both look out for the indigenous military but also Russan Spetsnaz teams.

Dr. Dog on January 6, 2013 at 1:24 PM

As for Russia, I’m just waiting for the act of appeasement from Obama that’ll give him an excuse to be “flexible” with them.

Yakko77 on January 6, 2013 at 1:22 PM

Putin the bully, will push obambi the punk, around all he wants.

VegasRick on January 6, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Gosh Russians always show up with warships because they’re just so kind hearted.

Speakup on January 6, 2013 at 1:26 PM

@ rob verdi on January 6, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Things like this perhaps:

“I remember landing under sniper fire,” Clinton declared.

Yet could not recall scat to what happend to Rose Law firm records eventually located in her WH quarters with her finger prints all over them….

and just wait til she miss-remembers that guy:

Ben-”whatshisface”-Ghazi.

Smart Diplomacy. Indeed.

RealMc on January 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Hillary: “Wasn’t he an actor in the ’60s?” ;-P

tpitman on January 6, 2013 at 1:28 PM

I think this is about more than just defending Syria. There’s a Sunni/Shi’a fight going on – Syria is the main battlefield right now – and the Russians are lining up in support of the Shi’a.

That includes Iran.

And, mirabile dictu, Iraq.

This is more than just defending Assad.

SteveMG on January 6, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Forget the whole Arab region. Arm Israel with tactical nukes and broadcast to the world that we will back their deployment if Israel’s existence is threatened.

HiJack on January 6, 2013 at 1:34 PM

This is more than just defending Assad.

SteveMG on January 6, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Yes it is, but it’s far less than you are implying. What it is about as Russia having access to Ice free Mediterranean ports. All of Russia’s native ports freeze over during the winter.

SWalker on January 6, 2013 at 1:37 PM

At the end of the speech, supporters rushed to the stage, mobbing him and shouting: “God, Syria and Bashar is enough!” as a smiling Assad waved and was escorted from the hall.

Prequel to Ozero’s inauguration speech???

BigWyo on January 6, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Forget the whole Arab region. Arm Israel with tactical nukes and broadcast to the world that we will back their deployment if Israel’s existence is threatened.

HiJack on January 6, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Israel already has Nuclear weapons and everybody, well apparently except you, knows it.

SWalker on January 6, 2013 at 1:38 PM

At the end of the speech, supporters rushed to the stage, mobbing him and shouting: “God, Syria and Bashar is enough!” as a smiling Assad waved and was escorted from the hall.

Prequel to Ozero’s inauguration speech???

BigWyo on January 6, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Not a chance, no way O’Bozo is willing to share credit or a stage with God.

SWalker on January 6, 2013 at 1:41 PM

At the end of the speech, supporters rushed to the stage, mobbing him and shouting: “God, Syria and Bashar is enough!” as a smiling Assad waved and was escorted from the hall.

Prequel to Ozero’s inauguration speech???

BigWyo on January 6, 2013 at 1:38 PM

He spoke confidently for about an hour before a crowd of cheering loyalists, who occasionally interrupted him to shout and applaud, at one point raising their fists and chanting: “With blood and soul we sacrifice for you, O Bashar!”

O Bashar. funny.

VegasRick on January 6, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Syria is also about securing the thousands of barrels of poisonous gas they have stored there.
Few want to see that stuff get out of hand.
If the Ruskies are ready to see to it that none of the bad guys,if anyone can figure out who is who, get to the wmds let them fork over a few rubles for a while its OK by me.
Frankly I’m tired of protecting one terrorist from another both of whom want sharia law and all that goes with the cult of islam.

rodguy911 on January 6, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Frankly I’m tired of protecting one terrorist from another both of whom want sharia law and all that goes with the cult of islam.

rodguy911 on January 6, 2013 at 1:47 PM

If Russia was smart they would set off all the chemical weapons and leave.

VegasRick on January 6, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Unfortunately, Russia has nothing to fear from this paper tiger.

rplat on January 6, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Unfortunately, Russia has nothing to fear from this man with a paper a$$hole tiger.

rplat on January 6, 2013 at 1:49 PM

One of my dear old Dad’s favorite sayings

VegasRick on January 6, 2013 at 1:51 PM

300 Marines is adequate for protecting or evacuating a naval base or embassy staff. It might be enough to help evacuate Assad and other friends of Russia via the Latikia area. It is not adequate to protect Assad or his chemical weapons from NATO. I would not worry too much about this unless they start shelling rebel positions in support of an Assad offensive.

KW64 on January 6, 2013 at 2:34 PM

Philly on January 6, 2013 at 12:49 PM

IIRC Serrano introduced the same proposal in early 2009 when people like Evan Thomas were proclaiming Obama the first god/emperor since Constantine made Christianity the Roman state religion.Went nowhere then. Less than nowhere now. Still scary to think that Dems harbor these imperial thoughts and would implement them if they had the chance.

xkaydet65 on January 6, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Jihad in America: The Grand Deception.

SWalker on January 6, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Great Article.

Kind of explains why Obama is on the side of Al Queda in Syria.

We do not live in a Democracy that was rejected we live in a Constitutional Republic. The difference is Democracy gives all the power to the people. Sounds good but in practice it gives all the power to the best organizer of people who then becomes a Dictator. The Constitution is designed to make this nearly impossible. Of course unfortunately many of the original safeguards have been eliminated like appointing of Senators. Second Amendment that originally allowed private people to own Military Equipment the best available most important people owned the best cannons available for example under it you should be able to own a Nuke if you can afford it.

So we are becoming a Democracy the first step to becoming a Dictatorship.

Steveangell on January 6, 2013 at 2:56 PM

VegasRick on January 6, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Liberals up to their same old tricks. It’s amusing, but after experiencing the last 4 years, you never know what could happen.

Philly on January 6, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Yes it is, but it’s far less than you are implying. What it is about as Russia having access to Ice free Mediterranean ports. All of Russia’s native ports freeze over during the winter.

SWalker on January 6, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Bingo.

davidk on January 6, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Russia is saving us from our own stupidity.

Never thought I would ever type those words.

The Syrian “freedom fighters” are a bunch of women and infidel hating Jihadist. Why would any civilized nation want to see those lunatics win is beyond me.

William Eaton on January 6, 2013 at 4:20 PM

SWalker on January 6, 2013 at 1:08 PM

All part of the 0bama – Clinton plan. You could say the same for EVERY “Arab Spring” uprising. In every case, our Rulers, (visible and invisible) have backed the Jihadi theocratic factions against the somewhat secular, somewhat sane, somewhat friendly to the civilized world, even going as far as to provide advanced weapons to groups who have always espoused an intention to destroy western civilization and values.

Were I a religious sort, I’d be expecting the ‘end days’ soon. Because sure as hell, everything done by these bastards that rule us have done in the past four years fit the prophecies of the Bible, Nostradamus, etc.

Not that I think that The Punk at 1600 Pennsylvania is the antichrist… But he darn sure acts like a minion would to help prepare the way for Armageddon.

LegendHasIt on January 6, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Forget the whole Arab region. Arm Israel with tactical nukes and broadcast to the world that we will back their deployment if Israel’s existence is threatened.

HiJack on January 6, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Israel already has those as well as H-bombs.

VorDaj on January 6, 2013 at 6:49 PM

I think the big takeawy here is that Syria has an Opera House. Who knew?

Kenz on January 6, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Forget the whole Arab region. Arm Israel with tactical nukes and broadcast to the world that we will back their deployment if Israel’s existence is threatened.

HiJack on January 6, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Israel already has those as well as H-bombs.

VorDaj on January 6, 2013 at 6:49 PM

They’ve got hell-bombs too? Good.

The only time we should ever do anything again in an Arab nation besides deal long-distance death is depopulate a certain region and make it another US state. Anything else is folly that we cannot afford. Literally.

MelonCollie on January 6, 2013 at 10:45 PM

Hey, our new SecState Kerry will fix this, right?

Our man in Damascus: Sen. John Kerry

Sucks to be you, Syria.

Pablo on January 6, 2013 at 11:16 PM

300 Marines is adequate for protecting or evacuating a naval base or embassy staff. It might be enough to help evacuate Assad and other friends of Russia via the Latikia area. It is not adequate to protect Assad or his chemical weapons from NATO. I would not worry too much about this unless they start shelling rebel positions in support of an Assad offensive.

KW64 on January 6, 2013 at 2:34 PM

It’s enough to neutralize NATO, they will not act as long as Russia has any military force in the area. They’ve challenged the paper tiger and there’ll be no military response by the West.

rplat on January 7, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Can someone tell me why people say Hillary Clinton was an awesome Secretary of State?

rob verdi on January 6, 2013 at 12:34 PM

…best answer?…B e c a u s e !

KOOLAID2 on January 7, 2013 at 9:06 AM