In a just-concluded speech to parliament in the capital, Damascus, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not lift the country's long-standing emergency law--as some analysts expected--and announced no concrete reforms, though he did pledge further reforms going forward. The speech follows the government's crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the last two weeks, which left over 60 people dead, many in the southern city of Daraa.
Assad said the protests represented a test of unity for Syria and blamed "conspirators" for stoking unrest, vowing to defeat the foreign "plot" against the country. "If there are reformers, we will support them," he said, but added that "we cannot support chaos."
Assad did not address Syria's emergency law, which bans protests and allows security forces to arbitrarily arrest and detain people, but he did take a swipe at the media: "Some people on some satellite channels will come and say these reforms are not enough, don't get upset with these satellite channels, they fall into the same traps all the time, they lie and they start to believe their own lies."
As Assad concluded his speech, he responded to chants of "God, Syria, and Bashar!" from legislators with "God, Syria and Its People!", according to the BBC.
Syria's cabinet resigned on Tuesday and a new cabinet is expected to be formed this week.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.