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Syria: The clock is ticking - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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These are not pleasant or easy days for Bashar al-Assad, who has lost dozens of kilometers of Syrian territory to the revolutionaries and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the military entity that was formed from factions who decided to defect from the regular army that is fighting its own people and has transformed into a frantic and insane killing machine. Today, the world and Bashar al-Assad himself hear that a high-profile personality has defected from “the bones of the neck” as the colloquial Syrian expression goes, i.e. from the inner circle. His name is Manaf Tlass, a commander in the Republican Guard and a childhood friend of al-Assad who is one of the few individuals close to the President on a human, social and professional level.

Manaf Tlass was under house arrest at his residence in Mezzeh for a considerable period due to his disagreement with the manner in which Syria’s affairs were being run, and the regime’s resort to insane repressive and bloody measures. Manaf’s outrage was compounded by what happened to his hometown and people in Rastan, and the massacres that took place there. Then Manaf Tlass left Syria heading to Paris for what was described as a private visit, but according to what Dr. Fawaz Akhras, Bashar al-Assad’s father-in-law, disclosed at the time to some of his guests at a lunch table in London, Manaf Tlass had defected. It was already feared that Manaf’s oldest son, the well-known businessman Firas Tlass, had previously defected, and was contributing to the financing of the revolution, as reported in the media.

The regular army is disintegrating at lightning speed, it is no longer practically capable of deploying and financing soldiers in different locations except through the use of helicopters, because the FSA has been able to liberate various regions and cut off supply routes, thus establishing the “free zones” that the United Nations previously demanded so it can operate. But of course further support, air cover and no-fly zones imposed upon the regime’s planes are all strongly required. All this has led to a massive collapse in the morale of the regular army’s personnel, and hundreds have begun to defect on a daily basis from all sectors and military ranks in what resembles a great transformation, or a gigantic domino effect. Furthermore, France’s President Hollande has recently hosted a new Friends of Syria conference, and if al-Assad previously expressed his delight at Sarkozy’s defeat because he considered him to be the head of a conspiracy against Syria, then he will be disheartened to learn that the new president is even more convinced of the necessity of al-Assad’s ouster, and does not miss any media opportunity or political meeting in order to say so very clearly.

Overwhelmingly and with a united voice, the international community today has acknowledged the need to overthrow the al-Assad regime, warning that the alternative could be a long and fierce civil war, changing the Syrian map, in reference to the expected ethnic and sectarian division in the event of al-Assad remaining in power. No one deserves to pay such a price, no one deserves a sacrifice of this magnitude, and all of this confirms that al-Assad’s departure is a moral necessity, and his survival would be an international disgrace that cannot be tolerated or accepted. He is a man who has broken his promises, lied to his country and the world, killed his relatives and fellow countrymen, and after more than a year and a half of denials and accusations lodged at others he finally acknowledges in an interview with a Turkish newspaper that he regrets the mistakes of his army, and the excessive violence that has been used against the revolutionary demonstrators. He is a man that has lost all respect, credibility and legitimacy, and can no longer be trusted with regards to anything he says or promises.

Bashar al-Assad and his regime should become a thing of the past, and the Syrians should be allowed to build their country away from humiliation, fear, abuse and corruption. These are the genuine demands that have been raised throughout four decades of authoritarian rule that brought the country to the state it is in now. Today the world is aware, morally, that it is impossible to justify what is happening in Syria or prolong the rule of al-Assad any longer. The final grains are passing through the hourglass to signal the end of al-Assad’s era.

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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