- War. Nine years of conflict in Syria: "Before dead than living under the Government of Bashar Asad"
- Such a Day as Today Syria: of such a father, such a son
Two decades ago tomorrow, the day the stripes were placed on Bashar Asad's bib , by accident. His father, Hafez, had chosen his brother Basel to succeed him in the Syrian Presidency, and as such had educated him to continue leading the country with an iron fist. But the death of the first-born in 1994, when he crashed his Mercedes against a wall while driving at high speed and without a belt, caused an unexpected turn: the son scorned since he was a child was proclaimed Rais.
The shadow of the patriarch Asad - whose last name means "Leon" -, who came to power after a coup d'état, is projected to this day. The stagnant state apparatus created by his Baath party, his unequal treatment of his offspring, and even his decision to give power to introvert Bashar - a bon vivant who had gone to the United Kingdom to complete his ophthalmology studies - instead The minor Mahir, today general of the elitist Fourth Division and strong man of Intelligence, mark the destiny of Syria.
The unexpected President
"On short distances, he exhibits humility. For example, he does not enter a room without first giving way. He dazzles you. But at the same time," explains actor and director Homam Hut, a former friend of the Syrian President, while gesturing various tics, "he is very anxious, mentally unstable and childish. He lives resentful of the world. I think that is due to the harshness with which his father treated him as a child. He kept him apart, for the benefit of Basel. Bashar did not even have his own room in the palace presidential".
"Knowing yourself a second option creates some anguish, perhaps a lack of confidence," says David Lesch, professor of Middle Eastern History at Trinity University in Texas and author of Syria: A Modern History. However, since Bashar was portrayed as someone who gave up his profession to 'save' the country, with little preparation, he saved him a long learning curve from the population, especially since he came to power with many believing that he would be different, "he adds.
"I consider it absolutely necessary to call each one of the citizens to participate in the development and modernization process if they are really honest and serious about obtaining the desired results in the very near future," were some of the words of the inaugural speech of the Brand new President, on July 17, 2000. The Constitution had been modified to allow a young Bashar to come to power at the age of 34. And he proposed to reform the country to the foundations.
But the Damascene Spring did not come to summer. For someone who wanted to reflect in Europe, reform meant, first of all, adopting neoliberal capitalist policies, optimizing bureaucracy and launching privatizations. This caused, firstly, to collide with the old Baathist guard and, secondly, to develop a clientelistic capitalism that led, in turn, to greater social inequalities. The timid cultural, political and intellectual opening backed down as soon as the President understood its effects.
"Bashar ran into the inertia of the state, with a state apparatus so corrupt and dying that little could be done about it. I know it was very frustrating for him not to be able to implement several of the decrees and policies he had approved. There were too many obstacles to reform the country, powerful groups whose position would have been undermined if a real reform had been applied. Finally, instead of changing the system, the authoritarian system changed Bashar Asad, "concludes Lesch.
Roast or burn the country
This sentence, defaced by the Assadista forces in the streets during its savage repression of the 2011 protests, was the slogan of the system from the early stages of the popular uprising, when there were still protesters who were not calling for the fall of the leader, but a process of democratization. For many, the turning point was the speech that Bashar Asad delivered on March 30 of that year. "Instead of acknowledging our demands, he called us seditious," laments a young Syrian.
But by Asad, they were not just referring to Bashar. "While behind closed doors his inner circle praises him and demands to praise him as a deity, behind closed doors he tries to manipulate him as he sees fit to maintain his farm," says Homam Hut. Who forms it? "His maternal uncle, Mohammed Makhlouf, and his first three children: Rami, Hafez and Iyad. His sister Bushra," he continues, "and his brother Mahir. It was his cousin, Atif Nayib, who unleashed the war" by ordering the torture of some young people in Daraa, remember.
Nine years after the outbreak of the war, and with nearly half a million dead, among the rubble of a country devastated by the bombs lie the ashes of a withered opposition. El Rais activated the machinery of ruthless violence that its opponents replicated thanks to the petrodollars and the support of a number of countries totally alien to the democratic dreams of the Syrians; the objective of some of these powers was to turn the region into a quagmire for their rivals.
Syria quickly went from a domestic conflict to a subsidiary war . While NATO, Turkey, Qatar and other countries of the Persian Gulf supported some forces that gave gradual signs of radicalizing - Asad definitely contributed to this, granting amnesty to extremist prisoners who would join the opposition ranks -, Russia and Iran provided advanced weapons and men on the official side. In particular, the entry of the Moscow aviation, in 2015, turned the omelette in favor of Bashar.
Although the President considers himself the winner of the contest, the battlefield is in ruins. The sharp depreciation of the local currency, which has lost 150% of its value against the dollar, and inflation that is expected to reach 160% by the end of the year, are taking their toll on a country that is now facing sanctions. Paradoxically, according to Iranian analyst Saadullah Zarei, "The US sanctions itself; blocking Western countries from cooperating with Syria creates a new opportunity for us."
David Lesch believes that "if the economy continues to deteriorate, I hope there will be some internal political quarrels, especially if Asad and his circle seek scapegoats for the country's problems. Although that could be seen as a sign of weakness in the regime, it could also mean a consolidation of its power in changing circumstances. " The analyst sees "little chance" that Iran and Russia, Bashar Asad's crutches, will find him a replacement. "There is no alternative that protects the newly won Russian strategic position in Syria," he argues.
Does it mean that, with the north in the hands of opposition and Kurdish forces, under the influence of Turkey and the US, the Syrian war is nearing its end? This is how a diplomat from Oman expresses himself, a country that flaunts its neutrality and its mediating position in all the conflicts that take place in the region: "Wars are businesses and they end when their parties conclude that they are not profitable businesses ; the Syria still believe it is profitable " .
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