Houla and al-Assad
The massacres, in which we don’t quite know what role Kofi Annan plays, are continuing to be committed with full force in Syria. What has been witnessed as massacres of the al-Assad regime up until yesterday are now being called “violations of the Annan peace plan.” What’s going on in Syria today will not be forgotten, just as the massacres in Rwanda, in Bosnia and in Iraq (due to sanctions) during Annan’s official term in the United Nations were neither trivialized nor forgotten. What the Baathist regime is trying to accomplish with the massacres is to both suppress the uprisings and demonstrate to the world that Syria is a swamp that needs to be avoided.
The massacre in Houla last week demonstrated once again that not much has changed since the uprisings started in Syria. The Baathist regime continues to kill in front of the whole world. There are two fundamental dynamics at work in these massacres: the uncontrollable ambitions of the sectarian minority administration that is trying to protect its position at the top of the state structure with its gangster family government model, and support coming from Iran-Russia relations. In addition to these two dynamics, the fact that the United States and Israel are not ready for a Syria without al-Assad has turned into an indirect form of support. The U.S. does not seem all that bothered that this dynamic is masked by “election year” excuses.
The cruel, unethical and not-so-clever attitude of the Syrian regime and its supporters, in the form of “stay away from the Syrian swamps” or “the regime is not stepping down, and those opposed to al-Assad have endangered all” has no grounds in reality. For this attitude to have any grounding, either we all have to look away from the corpses of the children massacred in Houla, or take the logical fallacies even the Baathists themselves don’t believe in, seriously. Al-Assad will not be an exception. The al-Assad administration will probably go through what similar gangster family regimes that have tormented their people went through. Because blood resembles water, and water finds its course. Even if no one notices, water finds its course. Every drop of blood shed signals the beginning of a new battle in the quest for justice.
Al-Assad faces historical jet lag. Revolutions or moments of metamorphoses may sometimes lag behind or face serious obstacles. Nevertheless, these lags or recourses are generally the result of external factors rather than internal. Yesterday father al-Assad was able to kill tens of thousands of Syrians, because he was in good company with Israel killing thousands of Palestinians, Saddam’s killing of tens of thousands of Iraqis and the shah killing thousands of Iranians. Not to mention Mubarak in Egypt who killed and imprisoned tens of thousands of its citizens and Turkey who only watched tens of thousands of its citizens get killed within its military tutelage system in the context of the “Kurdish problem.” This was the old Middle East. Now, there is a new political atmosphere, and there is no space for the al-Assad regime in it. It is not possible for the gangster al-Assad regime to grasp this simple truth: That the “Yemen formula” articulated recently worked via Russia does not indicate whether the al-Assad regime is capable of a rational step, but rather that Russia has just missed the last exit before it becomes an old actor in the new Middle East.