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torstai 1. lokakuuta 2015
Immediately after Assad took office a reform movement made cautious advances during the Damascus Spring, which led to the shut down of Mezzeh prison and the declaration of a wide ranging amnesty releasing hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood affiliated political prisoners. However, security crackdowns commenced again within the year. The New York Times reported that soon after Assad assumed power, he "made Syria’s link with Hezbollah — and its patrons in Tehran — the central component of his security doctrine."
In 2005, the former prime minister of Lebanon was assassinated. The Christian Science Monitor reported that "Syria was widely blamed for Hariri’s murder. In the months leading to the assassination, relations between Hariri and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad plummeted amid an atmosphere of threats and intimidation." The BBC reported in December 2005: "New Hariri report 'blames Syria.'"
On 27 May 2007, Bashar was approved as president for another seven-year term, with the official result of 97.6% of the votes in a referendum without another candidate.
In his foreign policy, Assad is an outspoken critic of the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Until he became president, Assad was not greatly involved in politics; his only public role was head of the Syrian Computer Society, which introduced the Internet to Syria in 2001. Al-Assad was confirmed as president by an unopposed referendum in 2000. He was expected to take a more liberal approach than his father.=======================================================================================================Syrian Civil War: 2011–present
Main article: Syrian Civil War
Protests in Douma, a Damascus suburb, 8 April 2011
Protests in Syria started on 26 January 2011. Protesters called for political reforms and the re-instatement of civil rights, as well as an end to the state of emergency which had been in place since 1963. One attempt at a "day of rage" was set for 4–5 February, though it ended uneventfully. Protests on 18–19 March were the largest to take place in Syria for decades and the Syrian authority responded with violence against its protesting citizens.
On 18 May 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an Executive order putting into effect sanctions against Assad in an effort to pressure his regime "to end its use of violence against its people and begin transitioning to a democratic system that protects the rights of the Syrian people." The sanctions effectively freeze any of the Syrian President's assets either in the United States proper or within U.S. jurisdiction. On 23 May 2011, EU Foreign ministers agreed at a meeting in Brussels to add Assad and nine other officials to a list affected by travel bans and asset freezes. On 24 May 2011, Canada imposed sanctions on Syrian leaders, including Assad. On 20 June, in a speech lasting nearly an hour, in response to the demands of protesters and foreign pressure, Assad promised a national dialogue involving movement toward reform, new parliamentary elections, and greater freedoms. He also urged refugees to return home from Turkey, while assuring them amnesty and blaming all unrest on a small number of saboteurs. Assad blamed the unrest on "conspiracies" and accused the Syrian opposition and protestors of "fitna", breaking with the Syrian Ba'ath Party's strict tradition of secularism.
Destroyed vehicles on an Aleppo street in 2012.
In August, Syrian security forces attacked the country's best-known political cartoonist, Ali Farzat, a noted critic of Assad's regime and its five-month crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and dissent. Relatives of the severely beaten humorist told Western media that the attackers threatened to break Farzat's bones as a warning for him to stop drawing cartoons of government officials, particularly Assad. Farzat was hospitalized with fractures in both hands and blunt force trauma to the head.
By the end of January 2012, it was reported that over 5,000 civilians and protesters (including armed militants) had been killed by the Syrian army, militia (Shabiha) and security agents, while 1,100 people had been killed by the anti-regime forces.
Pro-Assad demonstration in Lattakia, 2011
On 10 January 2012, Assad gave a speech in which he accused the uprising of being plotted by foreign countries and claimed that "victory [was] near". He also said that the Arab League, by suspending Syria, revealed that it was no longer Arab. However, Assad also said the country would not "close doors" to an Arab-brokered solution if "national sovereignty" was respected. He also said a referendum on a new constitution could be held in March.
On 27 February, Syria claimed that a referendum on an update to the nation's constitution, hailed as 'a showpiece of reform' received 90% support. The referendum imposes a fourteen-year cumulative term limit for the president of Syria. The referendum has been claimed as meaningless by foreign nations including the US and Turkey, and the European Union announced fresh sanctions against key regime figures. On 16 July 2012, Russia voicing concern at the blackmail on Syria by the western nations, laid to rest any speculations that it was distancing itself from Assad. Moscow also vowed not to allow a UN resolution pass that aims at sanctions against Syria.
On 15 July 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross had officially declared Syria to be in a state of civil war, as the nationwide death toll for all sides was reported to have neared 20,000.
Assad gave several TV interviews during the Syrian crisis, appearing on Syria TV, Addounia TV, Syrian News Channel, RT, Russia-24, Fox News, ABC, ARD and Ulusal Kanal.
On 6 January 2013, Assad, in his first major speech since June, said that the conflict in his country was due to "enemies" outside of Syria who would "go to Hell" and that they would "be taught a lesson". However he said that he was still open to a political solution saying that failed attempts at a solution "does not mean we are not interested in a political solution."
After the fall of four regime military bases in September 2014, which were the last government footholds in Raqqa province, Assad received significant criticism from his Alawite base of support. This included remarks and symbolic gestures made by Douraid al-Assad, cousin of Bashar al-Assad, demanding the resignation of the Syrian Defence Minister following the massacre by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant of hundreds of regime troops captured after the ISIL/ISIS victory at Tabqa Air base. This was shortly followed by Alawite protests in Homs demanding the resignation of the governor, and the dismissal of Assad's cousin Hafez Makhlouf from his security position leading to his subsequent exile to Belarus. Growing resentment towards Assad among Alawites is fuelled by the disproportionate number of soldiers killed in fighting hailing from Alawite areas, a sense that the Assad regime has abandoned them, as well as the failing economic situation exacerbated by government corruption. Figures close to the Assad regime have begun voicing concerns regarding the likelihood of its survival, with one stating in late 2014; "I don’t see the current situation as sustainable ... I think Damascus will collapse at some point."
After a 20 January 2015 interview with Foreign Affairs, the editor who conducted the interview, Jonathan Tepperman, told NPR that Assad "voiced untruths with confidence", and questioned "whether [Assad] is a spectacularly competent liar and this was all being done for domestic consumption, in which case he’s merely a sociopath, or he really believes what he’s saying. This is like Hitler in his bunker when the Russians were an hour outside Berlin". Tepperman further stated that he believed a political compromise with Assad was impossible, as Assad remains as "unrepentant and inflexible" as when the Syrian Civil War began and is convinced he is winning the war militarily while "seem[ing] to have no idea how badly the war is going".
Several members of the Assad family who were once considered untouchable have died in Latakia under unclear circumstances, raising questions about the Assad family's influence in the pro-government bastion. On 14 March 2015, an influential cousin of Bashar Assad and founder of the shabiha, Mohammed Toufic Assad, was assassinated with five bullets to the head in a dispute over influence in Qardaha. The village is the ancestral home of the Assad family, and the cousin had been previously injured in a dispute in 2012. In April 2015 Assad ordered the arrest of his cousin Munther al-Assad in Alzirah, Lattakia. It remains unclear whether Munther al-Assad's arrest was due to actual crimes or plotting against the regime. After a string of government defeats in northern and southern Syria, analysts noted growing government instability coupled with continued waning support for the Assad government among its core Alawite base of support, and that there were increasing reports of Assad relatives, Alawites, and business men fleeing Damascus for Latakia and foreign countries. Intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk was placed under house arrest sometime in April by the regime, and stood accused of plotting with Bashar Assad's exiled uncle Rifaat al-Assad to replace Bashar as president. Further high profile deaths include the commanders of the Fourth Armoured Division, the Belli military airbase, the army's special forces and of the First Armoured Division, with an errant air strike in Palmyra after the regime's collapse in the Tadmur offensive (2015) killing two officers who were reportedly related to Assad.
In June 2015, United Nations special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura stated that Assad must leave power and suggested petitioning the US to militarily pressure him to do so; this was a large shift in position, as Mistura had previously described Assad as "part of the solution" to the Syrian Civil War. In the same period the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey stated that "The future of Syria doesn't run through Assad", and the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL US General John R. Allen stated that no solution to the political transition in Damascus would involve Assad. Political columnist Mustafa al-Mullah stated that it is unlikely that the US will allow Assad to fall, as the in al-Mullah's opinion the only power capable of filling in the power vacuum would be the extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra.
On 4 September 2015, Russian president Vladimir Putin stated that while reports of Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War were "premature", Russia was "already giving Syria quite serious help with equipment and training soldiers, with our weapons".