The crumbling Syrian dictator
Napoleon Bonaparte one of the greatest French emperors who rewrote the history of the world through his sheer grit and determination once said: “Power is my mistress. I have worked too hard at her conquest to allow anyone to take her away from me.” Probably this fiery quote of Napoleon has inspired all the fiendish dictators of the modern era.
Recently Madanjeet Singh, the veteran Indian diplomat depicted the ‘monster regime’ of the former Ugandan autocrat Idi Amin in his much acclaimed book ‘The Culture of Sepulchre: Idi Amin’s Monster Regime’. If we analyze the nature of all the dictators from Idi Amin to Hitler to Bashar Al Assad— the common thread which binds them together is their romance with power.
The year-long bloodbath in Syria is far from over. It seems as if the dark clouds of uncertainty have become the order of the day. Due to the stubbornness of Assad, approximately 13,000 innocent civilians lost their lives. Rather it would be apt to say that these people preferred to die as martyrs rather than to meekly surrender before the barbaric regime. Hafiz Assad when he handed over the reins of power to his son Bashar in 2000 probably forgot that his son lacks the political acumen to rule a country where they are a minority. The Assads represent the Alawite community and it has always been a thorn for the Assads and a reason for their adversaries to question their sticking to the hot seat. The situation in Syria is really taking a dangerous turn. With each passing day Bashar Al Assad is finding it more and more difficult to rein in the messy state of affairs which indirectly has been concocted by him.
The Saudis have been expressing their dissent against the incumbent Syrian regime. Riyadh has been demanding since the day the anti-Assad campaign was born— that the time is up for the Syrian dictator. He must make way for a new leadership. Well, many might consider this Saudi concern to be a positive step. But let’s not have an iota of doubt in our mind that behind this Riyadh stance on Damascus, there is an ethnic angle to it. Mainly it is the Shia factor and as the Saudi rulers are from the Shia section, it is not at all unnatural for the Saudis to nurture their ambition for a Shia dominated government in Syria with the ouster of Bashar Al Assad.
However, at the same breadth it also needs to be kept in mind that the Iranian regime is very soft on Assad and it has been providing both political and moral support ever since the rebellion broke out in this tiny West Asian nation. Now the question arises as to why Tehran wants the incumbent regime in Damascus to stay in power. The reason is crystal clear. It is mainly due to Assad’s steadfast support to the Hezbollahs of Lebanon who also enjoy a very intimate relationship with Ayatollah Khamenei’s Iran. Another reason is certainly Assad’s backing of the Iranian nuclear programme. But in the midst of this finicky atmosphere where neither the Syrian government nor the Syrian opposition is ready to move even an inch from their declared stand— Syria’s all-weather ally Turkey’s sudden support for the anti-Assad camp is really a worrisome matter. The Turkish Prime Minsiter Recep Tayyip Erdogan certainly enjoys the blessings of USA, because without Washington’s tacit support Ankara would not have dared to take such a hard position against Damascus. It has been the old game of America as it has been following the age-old formula— you scratch my back. I will scratch yours.
Moreover, it needs to be put straight. The US is playing with fire. The main problem of the US is that it is not able to get rid of its myopic attitude. The Americans now want to end their “Mission Syria” before Vladimir Putin starts playing his cards as he has once again hit the political centre stage as the President of the Russian federation. Middle East has always been the epicentre of the power struggle between Washington and Moscow. The occupation of Afghanistan by the erstwhile Soviet Union stands testimony to this observation.
Behind the ongoing Syrian fracas, can we really afford to brush aside the reasons for the sudden attitudinal change of Turkey? Even the bitter critic of the Turkish Prime Minister can not deny that Turkey has been immensely benefited with his coming to power. Most importantly he has proved to be an able administrator by dealing firmly with the errant army generals who have always considered themselves to be the sole custodians of Turkey’s secularism and democracy. A couple of months back the “Ergenekon Case” hogged media attention where some Turkish army generals allegedly tried to create hiccups for the civilian government and the genesis of Erdogan’s crackdown against the powerful Turkish Army began from that incident.
However, it also can’t be ignored that Erdogan is heading a religious entity. With Egypt already in the lap of the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey can’t be allowed to go the Egypt way. As we all know, the Middle East has always been a hotbed of international terrorism, so it becomes even more important to chalk out a proper post-Assad plan.
|The reason is crystal clear. It is mainly due to Assad’s steadfast support to the Hezbollahs of Lebanon who also enjoy a very intimate relationship with Ayatollah Khamenei’s Iran.|
The former Vice-President of Syria Abdul Halim Khaddam and Assad’s uncle Rifat Al Assad are leading secluded lives in Europe. We need to understand the fact that dethroning the Syrian dictator is not an issue. The larger question is who will be his alternative as the Khaddams will definitely try to achieve their dream of ruling Syria. The diplomatic endeavour which is going on to put an end to the Syrian crisis also needs to address these key issues. Experts were dreaming that the ouster of Yemeni President Saleh would solve all the problems of the teeming millions of Yemen. But today Yemen is turning out to be a haven for the dreaded al-Qaeda network.
It is true that today the Syrians want a change. They no longer want to remain under the shadow of the Assads. But one can not afford to put aside the ground reality in Syria. The country can fall prey to ethnic riots. Post-Saddam Iraq is now in an appalling situation. The Americans have left behind them a shattered Babylonian civilization after nine years of their brazen occupation. The West has always taken recourse to democracy behind all their Middle East campaigns. But in reality, democracy is an alien concept to the people of the Middle East who have always been dominated by barbaric regimes. But one thing is sure to happen in Syria. Change will be ushered in. The martyrdom of the young Tunisian lad Mohammad Bouazizi was not in vain. His self-immolation not only compelled the Tunisian autocrat Zine El Ebdine Ben Ali to flee his country, but he also motivated his fellow Arab brethren to raise their voice in unison against their dictatorial regimes.
This mass movement can’t be stopped. The UN observers have already hit the scene and efforts are being made to implement the ceasefire agreement signed by the demurred Syrian President. How far it will be successful is something only time can tell. Let me end with another thought provoking African adage which Kofi Annan said during his colloquy with the beleaguered Syrian President: “If you can’t turn the wind then turn the sail.” The ophthalmologist-turned-brutal autocrat needs to read between the lines; because the sooner he does the better it will be for his country which is waiting for a new dawn.
|< Prev||Next >|