Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Where in the World Is Bashar Al-Assad!

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?   

Tuesday 10, 2011
Information blackout and military siege imposed on Deraa City, Jassem, Banyas, parts of Homs and the Damascene suburb of Mouaddamiyyah remain in place * Syria withdraws candidacy for a seat in UN Human Rights Council * Massive detention campaign is still under way throughout the country * On the other hand, Syrian authorities released opposition activists: Hassan Abdel Azim (81), Hazem al-Nahar,  Fayez Sara, Kamal Sheikho and George Sabra * In interview with New York Times, Assad’s notorious cousin, Rami Makhlouf promises a fight to “the end.” * Protesters remain in defiant mood, and plans are under way for a new Friday of defiance to underscore, yet again, the futility of violent crackdown * A variety of small demonstrations took place in communities across Syria as well, including the besieged city of Homs, in which people called on Bashar to leave and demanded end of regime * Turkish PM issues another statement condemning violence in Syria, saying death toll exceeded 1,000 and refuting officials stories about armed gangs * Meanwhile, someone should remind Lebanese authorities about their international obligations towards refugees from conflict zones as Lebanese police send fleeing Syrians back to face Assad regime's violence.


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!

"It seems like they have to have direct military presence, tanks and thousands of security officers to contain an area," said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian activist based in Washington. "Once they remove these, the people are back in the streets; even just across the street there will be protests."
"We know the cooperation is happening, not only because of the nature of the relationship between the two regimes," but because of the mutual-defense treaties, said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Washington-based Syrian activist. "This is exactly what is expected at times like this between allies."
Western governments put sanctions on the Syrian president’s cronies, but that is not enough. Geoffrey Robertson on how the man killing his own people must be treated as a war criminal now.


Deraa / Jassem: videos of fatalities resulting from army incursions into the rebellious town earlier today.
Picture is too dark due to power outage, but the voices of the people can be heard crying “God is Greater than the oppressor,” as army troops poured in the besieged town.
Jassem: Hours before the incursion. Chants: “Banyas we are with you till death” and “the people want to topple the regime” (2nd video)
Homs: despite the siege and the violence, protesters insisted on putting a variety of small demonstrations as a show of defiance, highlighted by the chants of “Bye Bye Bashar” (1st video).” 50 activists were reported to have been detained during the day. In the evening, heavy gunfire was heard all over the neighborhoods of Bab Amr and Bab Al-Sibaa, and was reported to have lasted on and off for hours. No reports on casualties.
Homs / Talbisseh: nightly demonstration in support of Homs City. “Bashar is the enemy of God” “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Al-Qadam: a night protest. Chants: “he who kills his own people is a traitor” “the people want to topple the regime”
Idlib / Kafar Nabol: “the people want to topple the regime”
Idlib / Mouarrat Al-Nouman: people take to the streets in defiance.
Al-Qamishly: candle light demonstration
Alboukamal / May 9: vigil in support of Deraa and other besieged communities
The Real Snipers of Deraa City
Damascus / Qatana / May 9: “they took everything and left us with nothing”
Deraa City: scenes of destruction