Assad: We were just about to reform when this darned rebellion broke out
For chutzpah, this statement by Syria's foreign minister during a speech to the UN General Assembly takes the prize.
Assad insists the unrest is being driven by terrorists and Islamic extremists acting out a foreign conspiracy to fracture Syria.
Ignoring the mounting death toll from his government's bloody crackdown, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told the United Nations Monday that external critics were to blame for the violence and for causing delays in Assad's plans for democratic reforms.
In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he sought to paint the Assad regime as having been on the brink of wide-ranging democratic reforms when foreign-inspired religious radicals and armed groups forced the Assad regime to put down the rebellion to hold the country together.
Al-Moallem said reforms "had to take a back seat to other priorities. Our overriding priority was facing the external pressures which were at times tantamount to blatant conspiracies."
The longtime foreign minister said that internal desires for reform "have been manipulated to future objectives which are alien to the interests and express desires of the Syrian people.
Meanwhile, Syrian tanks rumbled into the city of Rastan, just north of Homs, to do battle with unarmed civilians and a few army defectors. As usual, machine guns fired indiscriminately wounding at least 20, according to the usually cautious London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.