Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A resounding no to al-Assad | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Bouthaina Shaaban has been accustomed to playing the role of the “make-up artist”, or the embellisher of the Syrian regime’s ugly face. She applied herself to the task of issuing statements, with regards to the demonstrations staged by the free rebels in Syria in their quest for freedom and dignity. She attempted to shower everyone with elegant words and ornate phrases that were full of promises and hopes. Everyone found it strange that neither the President nor his deputy or the Prime Minister made an appearance, but rather it was Dr. Bothania, “with her eloquent style of address”, who undertook the responsibility. Of course, no one was convinced, and demonstrations continued in even higher numbers. By doing so, she is performing a role similar to that of Dr. Najah al-Attar, former Minister of Culture during the reign of Hafiz al-Assad, who now holds the position of Vice President but in a purely ceremonial capacity.

Bouthaina Shaaban has continued to try and alleviate the “gravity” of the bloody regime’s bleak situation in Syria. When UN sources stated that 2700 people had been killed in the Syrian revolution, Bouthaina said that the number was in fact 1400 (in a manner akin to bartering in the Hamediya market in Damascus). What’s even worse is that she described the killings as “mistakes”, as if the victims were killed in a car crash. Everyone knows, sees, and understands that the victims were killed in cold blood, and in the most brutal manner possible, deliberately at the hands of the regime’s revengeful security apparatus. The truth (or at least the most believable account), according to human rights sources, is that the death toll is closer to 15,000 victims. Of course, such statements by Bouthaina Shaaban are new attempts to revive a regime that has already been pronounced clinically dead.

Through the Baathist al-Assad regime, Syria has intervened in the affairs of other Arab nations, and raised slogans about Arab states. Its position towards Lebanon is well known, in the same manner as its “arbitrary” adoption of Lebanese politicians and the Lebanese cause, and the “war” it waged against all Lebanese sects without exception. Likewise Jordan, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt have tasted al-Assad’s bitter “intervention” in their internal affairs, either by military force, intrigue or schemes. Today, Arab nations have mobilized themselves against al-Assad and are supporting the free revolutionaries in their movement to overthrow a regime that has continued to commit crimes against its own people for four decades.

What rules present-day Syria is not a traditional political regime, but rather a “family” system akin to that of the underworld of organized crime. In this world, every individual plays a systematic role, primarily protecting the head of the family in return for huge financial rewards (in accordance with their skills). Rami Makhlouf, for instance, served as the face of the Syrian economy during the current president’s reign. “Externally” he relinquished his companies’ profits in order to “devote” himself completely to charitable activities, yet he then encountered a set of huge sanctions enforced by the US, the United Nations and the European Union. However, an idea soon came to his mind and he has recently entered into “forced” partnerships with several prominent merchants in Aleppo and Damascus. These partnerships do not display Makhlouf’s name and he does not pay any contributing costs. This trick was intended to reduce his economic presence in the market, but at the same time maintain his financial liquidity. Thus, if Makhlouf was ever destined to drown, he would not drown alone but would take all the symbols of the Syrian economy down with him. Even in his major company “al-Sham Holdings”, Makhlouf recruited many Lebanese and European executives in order to show that the company was a professional entity that does not belong to him, and thus reassure foreign investors that they could invest with Rami once again. However, such information was recently leaked in detail to the committees in charge of economic sanctions, and accordingly, they will soon issue a new list of the names of those who have economic dealings with the regime. The regime also contrived something similar when officials from the UN, Turkey and the Red Crescent visited Syria. During this visit, security elements changed the names of the streets, schools, mosques and hospitals that had witnessed bloody incidents – and where the officials planned to investigate. However, this was soon exposed when comparisons were drawn with the information provided by Google maps and other sources.

As Arabs, we would say to Nabil el-Araby, to all Arab leaders, and to the free world: It is no honor to us that this regime continues in the Arab world, for it does not represent the Arabs, Islam or Syria. We would say a resounding no to Bashar al-Assad and his regime. The Syrians were once forced to say “yes forever” to al-Assad, but now they have replaced this with “leave Bashar”, and the meaning is clear and understandable.