Defiant and smug, Assad begins 3rd term as Syrian president
DAMASCUS — Syrian President Bashar Assad declared victory over those who had sought to overthrow him as he embarked on Wednesday on a third term in office, buoyed by a growing extremist threat in the region that has helped cement his hold on power.
With jihadists rampaging across neighboring Iraq and the focus of Western powers shifting to containing terrorism, a relaxed and confident Assad made it clear that he no longer perceives a challenge to his 14-year-old presidency, extended by seven more years in a tightly controlled election last month.
Addressing lawmakers and officials at his inauguration, Assad said that the carnage unleashed by the Syrian war proved right his warning that the revolt against him is a terrorist conspiracy and that those who support the efforts to oust him will suffer consequences.
“We warned that this is a crisis that won't stop at Syria, but some said the Syrian president was threatening the world with empty words,” Assad said.
“Isn't what we see now in Iraq, Lebanon and other countries of the ‘spring' exactly what we warned against repeatedly?” he asked. “We will see later how the West will pay the price, too.”