Al-Assad is still dangerous |
Asharq Al-Awsat - 24 July, 2012
Author: Dr. Hamad Al-Majid
Despite being wounded, Bashar al-Assad is still an aggressor. Recently, four close members of his inner circle were killed in the national security headquarters, his control of border points is eroding, his officers are defecting, his barracks are dispersing, and his allies are despairing. His iron grip has weakened to the extent that it has become as soft as silk, wilting under the pressure of the storm caused by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which has trampled al-Assad’s dignity and prestige into the dirt, and is now carrying out mass carnage. If Bashar al-Assad has any sense of logic or concern then his primary thoughts should revolve around packing his bags and travelling to Russia, where he can enjoy his stolen fortune side by side with the infamous Russian mafia, which shares the same ugly crimes and spirit of banditry first founded by Hafez al-Assad.
Is it conceivable that al-Assad and his aides are deaf, dumb and blind? Do they not understand the course of events, since the outbreak of the revolution until today, a course that has moved rapidly towards their inevitable doom? Perhaps we can find the answer in Bashar al-Assad’s disappearance after the “great battle of Damascus”, where all we saw was a single picture of him as he listened absentmindedly to his newly-appointed Defense Minister. This disappearance is not only due to the stunning success of the FSA in infiltrating the President’s inner circle and closest aides, but it also shows that perhaps al-Assad’s chest is beating with genuine fear for his life, with the decision to flee no longer in his own hands, in contrast to the situation in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and even Yemen.
In these states this decision was always, regardless of the continuous resistance of the revolution or the intransigence of the leader, in the hands of Mubarak, Ben Ali, Saleh and Gaddafi. Although there was an entourage who benefited from their continued presence in power, this inner circle never held enough influence to force these leaders to resist until their last breath. As for Bashar al-Assad, his decision is mired in Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Iraqi, sectarian and ideological considerations, and there is a fierce group around him, consisting of sectarian symbols and those determined to hold onto power, who would challenge any attempt to flee. He is like the leader of an organized gang consisting of a terrifying crew of murderers and drug traffickers, who will decide whether he should leave or remain dedicated to the gang. If they do not allow him to flee along with his treasure of secrets, they may well assassinate him whilst he tries.
Certainly the great assault on the Damascus security headquarters had disastrous results for the al-Assad regime, leaving Bashar al-Assad on a crash course with Satan. A number of border points have fallen into the hands of the FSA, and this clearly demonstrates the weakening of the regime’s grip, and more importantly the ability of the FSA to smuggle arms to its members inside. Yet the most dangerous development that indicates that the regime is cracking comes from reports leaked from inside the Syrian capital, revealing that some military teams have been transferred from Syrian towns and villages to Damascus, and this may explain the regime’s weakening grip in rural towns and border areas.
At this stage, it is important not to focus only on the case of Bashar al-Assad, but we must also discuss the post-Bashar phase. It should be noted that pushing for dialogue with the regime at a time when the revolution is tightening its grip and the regime is being defeated would mean making unnecessary concessions. This reminds us of the Bosnian scenario in the final stages of their conflict with the Serbs, when they started achieving decisive victories on the ground only for the West to intervene and reach a settlement that equated between victim and executioner.