No sooner had we finished from Abdul Halim Khaddam’s interview than we watched the Syrian people’s assembly convene on air, on al Arabiya. Members of parliament follow one another in a session of heavy insults directed at the Syrian vice president of forty years.
The representatives described Khaddam in a variety of sorts, some of which we will not mention, out of respect for our readers. During the session, Khaddam was variously described as “a thief, a pervert, an animal, a traitor and a servant to the enemies”.
According to members of the Syrian people’s assembly, Khaddam was one of the pillars of corruption in Syria. He and his son were guilty of smuggling nuclear waste in an infamous scandal. His son used to smuggle dollars and Khaddam had to plead with the late president Hafez Assad for his release. He was also said to own 500 cars.
Syrian MPs put forward a logical question. Why did Abdul Halim Khaddam remain silent about corruption during his years in power? In his interview, he said the country was corrupt so much so that one official embezzled three billion dollars while the people of Syria were eating from garbage piles. He also claimed that repressive security services controlled the country. Where was Abdul Halim Khaddam in the past forty years? Why did not intervene to halt this corruption?
The question posed above is indeed reasonable but it is accompanied by another, equally rational, question. If these representatives are aware of all these scandals about Abdul Halim Khaddam, to the extent that they accuse him of smuggling nuclear waste, where were the members of the Syrian people’s assembly when these practices were taking places throughout the last forty years? Why didn’t they intervene when they were allegedly elected by the people to legislate and supervise the conduct of the state? If Khaddam is guilty to this degree, then what about other officials, part of the old guard, and their sons who remain in power?
I estimate that most of what the Syrian MPs spoke about Khaddam is true and most of what Khaddam said about corruption and corrupt officials in also true. But the problem lies in the nature of totalitarian regimes and that fact that parliament is powerless and unable to tackle corruption. The problem is one of monopoly of the press and an absence of freedom. In an environment such as this, people witness corruption and remain silent. The very corrupt officials disregard smaller cases, as well as, bribery and the theft electricity and fuel of tanks and military trucks. The thief remains silent on the activities of other thieves given the absence of accountability and transparency.
The impartial observer ought to view Khaddam’s interview and the Syrian parliament’s session together. He will then discover enough material for a series of scandals. Damascus has to intervene in order to reform what can be saved!