01/10/2012, 00.00
SYRIA
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President Bashar al-Assad set to address the crisis in Syria, violence continues

The Syrian leader will speak of the internal crisis and its effects on a regional and international level. June 20, 2011 he addressed the nation, with promises of reforms that were not implemented. Controversy shrouds the mission of Arab League observers.
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will address the nation today before noon (local time) focusing on domestic issues in the country, and on developments on a local and regional level. The brief announcement was made by the official Sana agency, recalling that on 20 June, the Syrian president had spoken on the situation, in the amphitheatre at the University of Damascus. On that occasion, Assad announced a series of reforms and changes, which have remained largely unfulfilled.

Apart from an interview a few weeks ago to an American TV network, addresses by the Syrian president are very rare. It is quite significant that Assad should intervene today, given the growing controversy over the mission of Arab League observers and the continuing violence across the country coupled with fears that the situation could degenerate into a civil war.

On 9 January, the Arab League decided that the observer mission will continue and be strengthened. Yesterday, the Syrian National Council, an organ of the opposition, attacked the Arab League mission, saying that it "tries to cover up the crimes of the Syrian regime giving it the time and opportunity to kill our people." The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who hosts the opponents of the Syrian regime, said that "the situation in Syria is heading towards a sectarian and racial civil war, and this should be avoided" claiming his country has a leading role in resolving the crisis.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Baath Party is preparing to hold a general conference next month. According to reports in regional press it will decide launch a transformation from the one-party system to a more pluralistic one, with the aim of reaching a wider participation. The move, which will be managed by President Assad, according to analysts is a final attempt to prevent the further radicalization of the situation in Syria.

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