Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The President's Speech

Well he finally made an appearance. Looking every bit like a president, and this time giving a speech at Damascus University, Bashar al Assad addressed his nation of adoring fans. Those that are today spilling out into the centre of Damascus to show their undying loyalty and affection to the man they never elected to rule them. Yesterday he spoke solemnly about the deaths of the martyrs, about how it had affected him personally too. But in addition he mentioned the 'dark period' of Syria's recent history. That's the time his uncle led the Defence Companies to obliterate parts of Hama, killing about ten thousand people on the most conservative estimate. So that's a dark period, there are salafists, terrorists, and other bad people who are out to destroy the delicate flower petal that is Syria's cultural mosaic, and that 'team Syria' or the منحبكجية as they are referred to, can now join hands and face this insidious plot.

Interestingly, he's started to speak more and more directly about 'the problem' that Syria is facing. That's such a typically Syrian way of burying your head in the sand. It's a bit like "the events" of Hama, never referred to by its name. But overall this was more of the same. This was a speech aiming to rally the troops and boost their morale, not one aimed at national healing. It will be a brave soul who believes Bashar al Assad's assurances and goes back to their home in Jisr al Shughour or wherever else they used to live.

So the "Minhibakjia" people will now be delighted that their 'immortal' leader, son of the last 'immortal' leader, has cheered them on, told them about how very hard he and all the government are working for a better Syria, and how brilliant everything is. Here is some more Valium. Today, they unfurl the Syrian flag, now horribly cheapened, and present their 'valid' point of view as the so-called other side to the story. Bouthaina Shaaban comes onto al Jazeera English and onto BBC Radio 4 telling the foreign media that she would be 'delighted' to have them return to Syria. But, and like a stern parent, she tells the children they cannot have any more candy unless they 'promise' her to be good. I don't understand who she or her boss think they are fooling. But perhaps more worrying is the number of my friends who come to me and try to show me what they believe are reasonable doubts which serve as proof of a plot against Syria.

Questions such as why al Jazeera is not covering the, what I believe to be, government sponsored rallies. Sometimes these questions verge on the ridiculous, such as those asking me who is killing the army and police if the protestors are peaceful. I really don't know how to respond yet to such stupidity. I just shake my head quietly as people who had never been interested in politics, history or current affairs before, now sit there and try to convince me that there is a conspiracy against Syria. Well yes, there were always conspiracies against Syria, but no, this does not mean Bashar al Assad is Syria's best hope, or that the Syrian uprising is not genuine in its grievances. Ultimately, this regime lost its legitimacy, if ever it had it, the moment it began shooting unarmed people and incarcerating them by the thousands for protesting or voicing their opinion.

Yesterday I looked at the Syrian president and, for the first time ever, I could tell that the speech was coming from a regime that was frightened, shaken, and increasingly desperate. There is only so long that you can pull the wool over people's eyes.

1 comment:

Safiya Outlines said...

Salaam Alaikum,

I do wonder who you hang out with, obviously I have a far narrower circle then you, but I've yet to meet a Syrian who was pro the regime. Some were (note past tense)a bit hopeful that Bashar might be better, but most absolutely despise the regime.

From what I am hearing, the media is portraying it as a weekend only uprising, yet there are disturbances every night.

Anyway, may Allah keep your loved ones safe and bring justice to the people of Syria soon. They really, really do deserve better.