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The war that al-Assad won | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President Bashar al-Assad has won part of the war that has been waged against him as a result of a so-called universal conspiracy and which first began in the city of Deraa in 2011. He said that this crisis would extend to engulf the entire region, and this is what indeed came to pass: Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are all currently drowning in an ocean of Syrian refugees. In the international sphere, the UN Security Council seems paralyzed, whilst Russia seems to be in the midst of a schizophrenic episode, with [Foreign Minister] Lavrov in the evening refuting what was announced by [President] Putin in the morning! As for China, it seems to have been struck with a case of laryngitis, remaining silent at all times, whilst the US is preoccupied with the changing of the guard at the State Department.

As for what al-Assad has failed to win in this war; this includes Damascus airport, the city of Aleppo, the safety and security of Syria as a whole, not to mention bread for the Syrian people who elected him when he was only thirty-four years of age! The Syrian people elected him as President of the Syrian Arab Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Syrian armed forces.

The al-Assad regime may have survived until now, but what remains of Syria? The army may remain cohesive, but the military is failing every new exam. The Syrian economy may not have announce its complete collapse as of yet, but the devastation and destruction that has afflicted the country has weakened this economy for decades to come. With the exception of military confrontations and the bakery massacres, everything in Syria has come to a virtual standstill.

Lakhdar Brahimi’s arrival from Beirut is a bad omen. It is customary for visitors to arrive in Damascus first, only then are they allowed to travel to Beirut. Similarly, sending the Syrian Interior Minister to Beirut for medical treatment is a bad sign. This indicates that certain locations in this universal war are truly crisis-stricken.

The press conference given by the Syrian Minister of Information represented another signal: only local media journalists attended this, whilst the setting appeared extremely bleak. As for the content of this press conference, this was rhetorical and did not contain any real news or information. Initially, people thought the Information Minister was going to discuss or explain Lakhdar Brahimi’s mission, however instead he claimed to have no knowledge of this visit, despite the fact that al-Manar TV had announced Brahimi’s visit the day before. The logical hypothesis would be that al-Manar TV had gotten this information from Damascus, rather than the international envoy. Ultimately this press conference – if not the performance of the Information Minister – was counter-productive. The regime may have begun to win the Russia battle, however what is important is the battle for Damascus. The regime continues to repeat rejections of foreign presence and intervention when the major issue revolves around Damascus airport. The regime also celebrated Brahimi’s impending arrival by bombarding a bread queue in Aleppo, as if it wants the international envoy’s mission to fail even before it starts. We have not seen anything new in Damascus in terms of political discourse, performance and phenomenon; it is as if Deraa [birthplace of the Syrian revolution] never happened! However from the outside, Syria appears as far as possible from this frozen image and stereotypical language. Indeed, Syria seems sorrowful in everything.