Syria’s Assad plays Israel card, apes Gaddafi

Bashar Assad, Syria

By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis

These are desperate times for Syrian ruler Bashar Assad. And it is beginning to show.

In an interview with RT, Russia’s English-language TV channel, to be broadcast on Friday 9 November, he pledges to die in Syria and paints his sectarian regime as the last bastion of stability and secularism in the Middle East.

Assad is desperate but he lacks originality.

In the interview, which was trailed by RT’s website on 8 November, the Syrian dictator says: “We are the last stronghold of secularism and stability in the region and coexistence, let’s say, it will have a domino effect that will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific and you know the implication on the rest of the world.”

Israel card

Playing the “stability card” is an old trick of the Syrian regime.

In May 2011, Rami Makhlouf, a businessman, confidant and cousin of Assad, invoked Israel’s security in a last-ditch effort to win US and Israeli support for the regime, which has so far killed more than 30,000 Syrian civilians to keep itself in power.

Makhlouf told the New York Times in a three-hour interview that Assad’s sectarian Alawite regime was the best guarantor of Israel’s security on the northern border. “If there is no stability here, there’s no way there will be stability in Israel… No way, and nobody can guarantee what will happen after, God forbid, anything happens to this regime,” he told the paper.

…Bashar Assad has never – not once – raised the issue of the Golan Heights at any international forum. Nor has he prepared any contingency for the liberation of the Golan by force if necessary.

Prostituting itself on behalf of Israel as a means of prolonging its lease of life is a clear indication of the depth to which the Assad regime has sunk.

But there is another variant to Assad’s Israel card. Recently, the regime has been sending tanks into the demilitarized zone between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syria. And just this morning, the regime’s army fired a mortar bomb into a Jewish colony in the Golan.

It is not clear why the desperate Assad is doing this. One possibility is that it could be a cheap attempt to provoke Israel into retaliating so he can then run and cry that the Zionist entity and the armed opposition are in league.

Whether or not that is Assad’s intention, one thing is clear: the Golan Heights and its liberation have never been on his regime’s agenda.

That is not surprising and is consistent with the Assad family’s history of treason.

In 1967 Bashar Assad’s father, Hafez, abandoned the Golan to the Israelis without a fight, and then tried to sell this to his people as a victory because, despite the loss of the territory, the Baathist regime was still in power. Now his son, Bashar, has told the Israelis they can keep the Golan in return for convincing the Americans that his regime is good for Israel.

In fact, since taking over from his father in 2000, Bashar has never – not once – raised the issue of the Golan Heights at any international forum. Nor has he prepared any contingency for the liberation of the Golan by force if necessary. His army, which is commanded almost exclusively by relatives and others from his Alawite sect – all selected on the basis of their loyalty to the regime and not their competence – has just one purpose: to keep the Assad family in power. The only times Syrian tanks and warplanes have been in action in the last 30 years have been to kill Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians.

Death pledge

In his interview with RT, Bashar Assad also pledges to stay and die in Syria, rather than seek a safe haven as has been suggested by some Western politicians. “I am Syrian, I was made in Syria, I have to live in Syria and die in Syria,” Assad says during the interview.

But here too he is not being original.

What is happening in Syria today is … the same as what happened in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, albeit much, much bloodier. But like a madman, Bashar Assad has learned nothing from the North African dictators.

In February 2011, eights months before his humiliating capture in a sewage pipe by Libyan rebels, Bashar’s friend, Muammar Gaddafi, also uttered similar words. “I am not going to leave this land. I will die here as a martyr,” the Libyan tyrant said on state television, refusing to bow to calls from his own diplomats, soldiers and protestors who braved a fierce crackdown to clamour in the streets for him to go.

It is beyond comprehension how intellectually-challenged dictators are unable to learn from history – and recent history at that.

First in Egypt, as the revolution unfolded in January 2011, one would have thought that the aging Western stooge, Hosni Mubarak, would have learned a thing or two from what happened in Tunisia just weeks earlier and tried to mend his ways. But no, he had to repeat, almost word by word and scene by scene, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s final act.

Next came Gaddafi who, having just seen his two best friends bite the dust, went on air to lambast the Tunisian people for getting rid of Ben Ali and lamented the fall of Mubarak, whom he described as “a poor and modest man” who loved his people and should have stayed as president.

And now we have Assad aping Gaddafi.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

What is happening in Syria today is, in essence, the same as what happened in Tunisia, Egypt and especially Libya, albeit much, much bloodier.

Like a madman, Bashar Assad has learned nothing from the North African dictators. Instead, he is following in the footsteps of Gaddafi – something that will come out loud and clear in his RT interview on 9 November.

One can only hope that, for the sake of the Syrian people, a fate similar to Gaddafi’s awaits him and his henchmen – and sooner rather than later.

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