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The end of the tyrant - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Why did the al-Assad regime commit a massacre in the Houla region of the Homs Governorate? I am raising this question amidst the most barbaric crimes and blatant savagery carried out by the regime’s elements, most notably the notorious “Shabiha”. The charred corpses of tortured children and women, the horrific slaughter of civilians with knives – chopping off their heads and amputating their genitals, and the rape of girls and women cannot simply be justified by the mere desire to defend the ruling system or the regime. The issue must have deeper roots within the mentality of the Shabiha and those who accompany them.

With utter astonishment I read the interview that “The Times” of London recently conducted with “Jaafar”, a member of the Shabiha who agreed to be interviewed and filmed without exposing his family name. Jaafar is an extremely muscular individual with a thick mustache, bushy beard, shaved head and tattoos of swords all over his arms. In his interview, he boasts that he was once a smuggler of all kinds of illegal commodities with the regime’s full knowledge and support. He opened one shop after another to sell his smuggled goods in a scheme that also benefited the regime, and soon he promoted to defend some of al-Assad’s officials. This example applies to thousands of others who resemble Jaafar and who share the same social, cultural and economic background. The regime managed to recruit many of them and convinced them that their survival and lifestyle were closely linked with the continuity of the al-Assad regime, and that any change to the status quo would constitute high treason meriting killing and bloodshed. This explains exactly what is going on now in all Syrian provinces.

What happened in Houla was a mass act of revenge against the residents of a town to which one of the cooks of the Syrian Presidential Palace belonged. The cook had previously prepared a group dinner for several symbols of the Syrian regime, which caused severe food poisoning among many of them. As a result, some officials were taken to hospital, and it was even rumored that some of them had died. Immediately, strict orders were issued to enact revenge upon the town and its residents without mercy, and nevertheless, the cook was not arrested. Subsequently, other massacres took place that were no less bloody, criminal, violent or horrific, causing the death toll to rise in a staggering and alarming manner. This prompted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Kofi Anan, the former Secretary-General of the UN and its current envoy to Syria, to admit that the Syrian regime must shoulder the responsibility for such incidents, violence and deaths.

Now, the international community seems to have begun to talk openly about the post-Assad era, as a result of the resounding conviction that the adherers of this regime can no longer defend it or prolong its stay in power,. This is especially in light of the advanced weaponry now being provided to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the rise in number of those (other than the defectors) who are refusing to join the regime’s army, and the increasing amount of liberated territories now under the control of the FSA.

We are approaching the concluding chapters of the agonizing and horrific story written by the al-Assad regime, and the ending will be a happy one for the revolutionaries, although they have paid a huge price. Even the Shabiha – totally dedicated to defending their regime – are unable to save it. This is the end of the tyrant.

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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