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Al-Assad: Lest we forget! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Once more, Syria’s “temporary” President Bashar al-Assad appeared on the screen of Addounia television channel, which is primarily owned by his cousin Rami Makhlouf. It is a channel known for its “aversion” to the truth and facts. Al-Assad’s most recent appearance came in the form of an interview billed as an exclusive, in which the Syrian President “clarified” what was happening in his country as a “global conspiracy” led by “hostile imperialist powers” through “armed terrorist groups” and by funding “reactionary forces in the region”. This is a vocabulary that is straight out of the Baathist Party dictionary, filling people with its lies and its ills, and no rational, fair or wise individual would accept such nonsense.

So that people do not forget, it is important to remember and recall the nature of the al-Assad regime that the Syrians are fighting against with valor and courage, in order to rid themselves of it once and for all. Hafez al-Assad first sought to create armed groups, particularly within the regime itself, such as the “Defense Brigades”, a militia loyal to the authorities of the then Syrian Vice President Rifaat al-Assad. The Defense Brigades were used as a means of blackmail against merchants and traders, a means of suppression against the population of Aleppo and Palmyra, and most shockingly they were used in the destruction of the city of Hama in what later became known as the great Hama massacre. Rifaat al-Assad also tried to harness this militia to overthrow the government of his brother Hafez al-Assad, but he did not succeed.

The regime knew how to employ its bloodthirsty apparatus to bring about deep rifts between political and religious groups in the neighboring state of Lebanon. The regime introduced the Tawhid organization in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, with its violent Salafist orientation under the leadership of Said Shaaban, in order to serve as a bloody thorn in the side of the Sunni sect. The Maronites also witnessed first-hand the Syrian regime’s ability to disrupt their ranks, taking advantage of their historical attachment to powerful positions. Sometimes, the al-Assad regime exploited Suleiman Frajgieh and at other times Elie Hobeika, and now it is exploiting Michel Aoun with the utmost malice and cunning. Of course, Hezbollah was introduced at the expense of the Amal movement’s militia, and a brutal war erupted between them resulting in the deaths of hundreds. On other occasions, the Syrian regime strengthened the position of Talal Arslan and used the Tawhid movement – this time under the leadership of Wiam Wahhab – against Walid Jumblatt and his family ties with the Druze sect.

In all the above cases blood was shed abundantly, and these battles were driven from the heart of the al-Assad regime. All this took place in the name of Syria, the big sister, “protecting” Lebanon. Of course, we cannot overlook the heinous crimes committed by the al-Assad regime against the Palestinians in their refugee camps, and the massacres that claimed the lives of dozens, hundreds and thousands. Dubious units were spawned from the womb of the regime in Damascus, with controversial and repulsive leaders, who were responsible for the killing and displacement of huge numbers of their Palestinian “brothers”. Throughout all this the regime justified its actions in the names of freedom, socialism, resistance and opposition; all political “bluster” free from any content. These empty goods were promoted by the Syrian regime like broken records for decades. For a while the regime found plenty of buyers until they discovered the slogans to be false and invalid. Finally, we also cannot forget the damage done to the Syrian people themselves, as a result of constant oppression, humiliation and deprivation.

This is the true reality of the al-Assad regime, regardless of how it seeks to promote itself on Addounia television channel or elsewhere. A genuine global conspiracy would be if the world accepted the al-Assad regime staying in power in Syria, because this is an unforgivable crime. The people have called for its end and it is no longer possible to accept the idea of al-Assad forever, instead it is the people forever. The Syrians of the past mocked the gestures of Hafez al-Assad when he greeted them from the balconies saying: “Be patient with me or by God I will grind you”. Now the al-Assad regime can taste the bitterness of its people demanding dignity, and they must triumph.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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