Bashar Assad: Syrian President and Conspiracy Buff

Ben Bowlin

Earlier this week, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad spent 45 minutes addressing the country's Parliament. This was his first public speech regarding the protests in Syria, which have threatened to bloom into a bona fide revolution. In this speech, he claimed that "Syria is the target of a big plot from the outside." That's right: He's claiming Syria's unrest has been created as part of a conspiracy (as opposed to, say, a reaction against the notoriously dangerous Syrian security forces). The U.S. State Department has predictably dismissed this notion, and it's no surprise that most Westerners will also shrug this off as an attempt at damage control.

But in a Middle East jaded by Western interventions and occupations, these types of conspiracy theories carry a lot more weight. Especially considering that the U.S. government recently admitted to sending CIA agents into Libya.

In my opinion, it's much more likely that the people of Syria have been inspired by the events in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya -- but, then again, maybe there's something I'm missing here. Either way, it's fascinating to hear a world leader alluding to a conspiracy, even if it's just an effort to garner domestic support.

But enough about me. What do you think? Is Syria's burgeoning unrest a Western conspiracy, as Assad implies? Or is it merely the inevitable result of despotism?