Opinion |

Assad's Atrocious Regime

Don't worry, this regime won’t last. Its existence contradicts the direction of history.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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Supporters of Bashar Assad celebrate what they say is the Syrian army's victory against rebels in Aleppo, December 12, 2016.
Supporters of Bashar Assad celebrate what they say is the Syrian army's victory against rebels in Aleppo, December 12, 2016.Credit: OMAR SANADIKI/REUTERS
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

While the Syrian army and its allies are massacring the residents of Aleppo, Syrian President Bashar Assad found the time and inclination to toss out some philosophical pearls. Time, he said, becomes history, and when the campaign to liberate Aleppo becomes a formative historical event; they will yet talk about “before and after the liberation of Aleppo.” Assad looked satisfied and in other places people sang of the glory of Aleppo’s liberation. Glory on a mountain of skulls.

>> I hope Assad wins (Abed L. Azab) <<

The television networks were showing what looked like theater of the absurd; in the middle of the ruins, in the chilling silence, a group of people were singing and dancing. It reminded me of a similar scene I’d read about in the book “Al-Qawqa’a” (“The Shell”), which was published before the Syrian uprising, where the author, Mustafa Khalifa, who was imprisoned for 13 years, tells of a group of wasted men who, upon being released from prison, were taken to Damascus’ central square and positioned in front of a sign lauding then-President Hafez Assad for a “spontaneous” demonstration in support of the regime.

Meanwhile, the Ba’ath spirit has filtered into Israel. The Haifa-based Al-Ittihad newspaper refused to print anti-Assad pieces I’d written, and now anyone criticizing the Syrian regime, including this writer, is being regarded as a member of ISIS. “You don’t support Assad? Then you support ISIS,” one person said to me. Really? Who produced the fanatics if not the Ba’ath regime and its ilk, who in the name of secularism turned Syria into a police state? Even Syrian actor Duraid Lahham, an enthusiastic supporter of the Syrian regime, used to say that the only place one could open one’s mouth was in the dentist’s office.

By the way, even during the uprising that began in 2011 there was no talk of overthrowing the regime. The demonstrators called for reforms that they wanted Assad to carry out. The regime’s response was to shoot at the demonstrators – “It’s either Assad or the country burns.” Only after a year and a quarter, in Aleppo itself, did the first armed conflict occur, when deserters from the Syrian army confronted soldiers of the regime. That’s when all the extremists, supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey, started to frequent the bleeding state. Bashar Assad’s wet dream was coming true – to turn the mostly secular Syrian people into a gang of benighted fanatics. Thus he was able to create the false equation of either Assad or ISIS, and the rest is history.

Regarding what’s happening now in Aleppo, Yaakov Ben Efrat, a member of the Daam worker’s party, said, “It’s doubtful if Aleppo would have fallen if not for the U-turn made by [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan following the failed coup against in him in July.” Indeed, we are talking about a regional campaign here, not just a domestic Syrian one. The irony here is that the weakest player in this bloody game is Assad. He’s a prisoner of the Russians, and somewhat less so of the Iranians. The Russians attack from above and Iran and Hezbollah take it from there. And what these gentlemen refer to as “liberation” looks like war crimes in every way.

But, between us, what could we, the Arab citizens of Israel, really do for our Syrian brethren other than offer a word of encouragement during their toughest days, and thus repay a bit of what they gave us during our brutal Nakba, when they took in our fellow refugees? The Assad regime actually behaved badly toward the Palestinians, from the slaughter at Tel Al-Zatr to the nurturing of an alternative leadership to Yasser Arafat.

Moreover, we – who demand from the rest of the world not to maintain double standards – cannot excuse the crimes of the Russia-Assad-Iran triangle, or its reinforcement, Turkey. After all, Israel, to explain its attacks on Gaza, uses similar terms – the war on terror and the destruction of terrorist bases.

The poet Abu Altayyib Al Mutanabbi, who spent most of his life in Aleppo, wrote a millennium ago, “You have no horses to give, or money either then words will cheer if the situation is gloomy.” Don’t worry, descendants of Al Mutanabbi, this regime won’t last. Its existence contradicts the direction of history.

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