He is quoted daily in the national press, and his officials and mouthpieces are all over the place, telling the usual lies and making the usual assurances, but where is Bashar Al-Assad really?
He’s being referred to in the national newspapers on the daily basis, as has alsways been the case. He is reported to be meeting various delegations from all over the country, is often quoted making references to current events in the country, as he makes excuses for the violence perpetrated by his security officers. Still, no recent videos or images of him are available. Even footage from his appearance last Friday to put flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in commemoration of Martyr’s Day was shown to date back to 2010. So, where in the world is Bashar Al-Assad?
Some claim that he is the victim of a palace coup orchestrated by his brother Maher in cooperation with other army generals and security chiefs, and that Bashar is currently either under house arrest, dead, or in Tehran.
Personally, I don’t buy into any of these rumors, and believe Bashar Al-Assad to be in full command of the situation, that he is behind every decision that is taking place, and that every act of violence against protesters and unarmed civilians is happening with his full endorsement and approval. I believe that what Bashar is trying to accomplish by shying away from the public eye at this stage is to take a page out of his father’s old book by thrusting his brother and other officials to the forefront, allowing them to take the heat and blame for the ongoing mayhem while he runs things from the background so he can claim, or make other people claim on his behalf down the road, that things had happened without his approval. This way he can always maintain a semblance of legitimacy, just as his father had once done, or so he hopes. But in vain! The Turkish PM doesn’t seem willing to buy into this act, and that would have been an important figure to have on your side at this stage. I doubt any other regional or international leader would as well.
So, where in the world is Bashar Al-Assad? He is where he wants to be: running the show and hanging for dear life, with other members of the family (for this a family affair, as Rami Makhlouf clearly put it), to an ever shrinking straw. Now whether his First Lady is with him or in London, as some reports claim, is important only as an indication as to the Assads’ own sense of how serious the crisis is. But then we need look no farther the statements of Rami Makhlouf to know how troubled the Assads are at this stage: the family-based nature of decision-making has been laid bare for all to see, and the nature of their gambit “deal with us or make trouble for everybody” has been clearly enunciated. First, it was Bashar himself, now it is Rami, and in-between, the revelations about Maher and his involvement in Seydnaya Massacre, the entire family has by now gone full monty. There are no more fig leafs, and no more excuses. Indict the bastards!