Massacring regime protesters around the country, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad walks a fine line between fascism and genocide. Killing thousands of protesters since Jan. 26, 2011, Assad has attempted to quell a growing revolutionary movement euphemistically called the “Arab Spring,” ushering pro-Democracy revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Assad’s approach to managing nationwide protects against his rule has been turning loose Shiite militiamen loyal to his regime to attack and massacre demonstrators. Since the Arab League condemned Assad’s actions and sent monitors to Syria Dec. 27, the Assad regime continued its assault unabated, eventually attacking Arab League monitors Jan. 10. Since the carnage began Jan. 26, 2011, around 5,400 civilians have lost their lives, including 384 children, according to U.N. estimates. Assad shows no signs of calling back the dogs.
Assad believes, like other out-of-touch dictators, that enough violence can stop a national movement seeking more dignity and human rights. Even Khalid Meshaal’s Damscus-based Palestinian-Hamas government in exile packed up and left Syria for some unknown location. Fourteen members of a Sunni family in Homs, including women and children, were butchere by regime-loyal militiamen. U.N. Security Council officials agreed to meet in emergency session to deal with a rapidly deteriorating situation, leaving more that 35 dead today around the country. Russia and China vowed to veto any Security Council resolution that called for Assad’s resignation. When China ran tanks over pro-Democracy protestors at Tiananmen Square April 14, 1989, the world watched China’s views on human rights. Only, like in Syria, China’s state power and control meant anything.
Assad’s crackdown rival’s Iranian President Mahomoud Ahmadinejad’s brutal repression of pro-Democracy protestors after his disputed reelection June 13, 2009. Ahamdinjad, like Assad, arms and give the green light to pro-regime militias to suppress any Democratic remnants. Russia also doesn’t have a stellar track record on tolerating dissent, most recently when thousands of demonstrators took to Moscow’s streets to protest Vladimir V. Putin’s expected return to power this March. Putin made sure that all anti-regime protestors would meet their maker. Watching Assad’s militia butcher protestors around the country, the Arab League called for Assad’s resignation, something he currently rejects. Assad insists, like Mubarak did I Egypt last year, that he’s battling al-Qaeda terrorists. Assad blames foreign terrorists for popular uprisings that resist his brutal dictatorial rule.
Assad’s government insists that foreign terrorists have killed over 2,000 soldiers and police since last March. “Any decision about a future political settlement in Syria must be made during the political process . . . preliminary conditions,” Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov. Gatilov’s remarks hint strongly that Russia would veto any Western-drafted resolution that called for Assad to step down. Reports of a draft resolution call for “political transition,” giving the Assad government time to call it quits. Moscow shows loyalty to its client states no matter how egregious the human rights abuses. White House officials, dependent on the Russian and Chinese vote, must carefully reconsider strategic alliances with Russia and China. Obama also can’t expect Russia and China to jump on the anti-nuclear bandwagon with Iran.
Meshaal’s departure from Syria speaks volumes about what the broader Sunni Arab community thinks of Assad. “He’s not going back to Syraia,” said an unknown regional intelligence source. Assad has antagonized the Sunni-based Muslim Brotherhood, a sizable portion of the estimated 5,400 slaughtered since protests began last Spring. To hang on to power, Assad must continue to massacre civilians, something becoming more and more untenable. With the U.N. Childrens’ Fund [UNICEF] estimating over 384 children butchered by the regime, there’s growing intolerance on the Security Council, except for Russia and China. Assad’s Alawite Shiite sect hacked to death 14 members of the Sunni Bahader family in Homs’s Karm al-Zaitoun district. Eight children, between eight months and nine-years-old, were among the carnage found at the scene.
Assad’s days are numbered in Syria. He can’t butcher his way into a national consensus, especially allowing his small Alawite Shiite clan to massacre the wider Sunni population. Striking parallel’s exist in reverse with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, where a Sunni minority, led by Saddam’s Baathist Party, brutally repressed an overwhelming Shiite majority. Assad’s Shiite Alawite clan has dominated Syria’s some 23 million Sunnis for nearly five decades. “The Assads are the dirtiest of families,” shouted crowds of Sunnis in Deir Blaba, on the outskirts of Homs. Watching the bloodiest day of protesting around the country reminds the Arab League that Assad no longer enjoys support from rank-and-file Syrians. With all of Assad’s mischief with Hezbollah in Lebanon, it’s time for him to step aside and let the region start anew. There’s just no more room for brutal dictators.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.