The only positive aspect of Bashar al-Assad’s speech yesterday was that this time he avoided the usual rhetoric. He did not bombard his audience with the ridiculous and loathsome comments that he gave in his speeches at the start of the revolution, at a time when he was seeking to establish his self-confidence. Today is different because the revolutionaries are surrounding Damascus and the noose is tightening around its neck. The airports have become in range of the rebels and the revolution is growing steadily, whilst al-Assad’s rule is clearly in decline.
Bashar before anyone else realizes that his dictatorial regime encompasses all the reasons for its own downfall, from the bloodthirsty and brutal acts, the assassinations, torture, sectarianism and corruption, and the looting of the country’s wealth. This was all before the outbreak of the revolution. As for afterwards, the courageous popular revolution has added to the regime’s unsightly CV more than 60,000 dead, millions displaced and massive destruction in Syrian towns and cities. By logical calculation it is impossible for it to escape from collapse, so what is Bashar clinging on to in the hope of remaining Syria’s president?
Given the facts on the ground that are working against him and his regime, we can only presume that al-Assad is gambling on two possibilities; one the very slight possibility of the survival of his rule, and two the destruction of his country. Let’s speak in all honesty; President al-Assad with his vile sectarian agenda does not care about plunging Syria into hell. He is more like a foreign occupier, resisting only against Syria’s revolutionaries and patriots and fighting them with all kinds of destructive weaponry. He will win in any case, either the popular revolution will be destroyed or he will destroy a country that seems to mean very little to him.
“The criminal will wish that he could be ransomed from the punishment of that Day by his children. And his wife and his brother. And his nearest kindred who shelter him. And whoever is on earth entirely [so] then it could save him” [Surat al-Ma’arij, Verses 11-14]. Bashar, like his father, only sees Syria as an extension of the Safavid Crescent, and either Syria will continue as that or he will hand it back to its people in ruins. However, it must be noted that Bashar does not have power over that decision purely himself; the Syrian lock is one with many keys. One key is held by the figures of the Alawite sect close to him, another by the key pillars of his rule who benefit from it, and there are also keys in Tehran, Beijing and Moscow. In short, Bashar is like the leader of a gang and even if he tried to change now or take regressive steps, his loyalty lies first and foremost with the members of his gang because he carries all their secrets and is their partner in crimes of murder, torture, smuggling and rape. This is one of the reasons for his insistence to remain in power despite the fact that land is falling all around him.
Bashar the gang leader believed that the Arab Spring was like soap bubbles that would soon disappear, but the reality is that his regime is the biggest bubble, now in danger of bursting as its grip on the country loosens. The rebels first struck a blow to his inner circle through the famous “security cell” operation, and have now made advancements in every region. They control a number of border crossing points, making it easier to smuggle in sophisticated weaponry enabling them to down al-Assad’s aircraft, whereas in the past the regime would have stopped even an insect crossing from a neighboring country.
Thus, in al-Assad’s latest speech he did not provide anything new, his sole purpose was to reassure the rest of the gang in Tehran, Moscow, Beijing, Baghdad and southern Lebanon that the “code of honor” will be observed until the end.