With insurgents fighting their way closer to the seat of his power, state media said in a statement that Assad would speak on Sunday morning about the “latest developments in Syria and the region”, without giving details.
It will be the 47-year-old leader’s first speech in months and his first public comments since he dismissed suggestions that he might go into exile to end the civil war, telling Russian television in November that he would “live and die” in Syria.
Insurgents are venturing ever closer into Damascus after bringing a crescent of suburbs under their control… >continue<
Jonathan Landis | Syria Comment »
In 2005, a friend who was close to the regime told me that Assad and those around him were convinced that they could defeat President Bush’s attempts to change the regime in Syria. They said:
"Bush thinks he can use Iraq against us. But Iraq is not a nation. We will help turn its factions against the US. It will turn into a swamp and suck the US in. This is what we did to Israel and the US in Lebanon in the 1980s."
Today, Assad will treat Syria as he did Lebanon and Iraq earlier. He will gamble that it is not a nation and will work to tear it apart. Already he has withdrawn from the Kurdish parts of Syria. Friends in Aleppo tell me that Assad is arming the Kurds there. He will arm the Arab tribes in the hope that they will resist central control…
In order to survive, Assad and his Alawite generals will struggle to turn Syria into Lebanon – a fractured nation, where no one community can rule. >continue<
One day during my high school studies in Syria, over a decade ago, the school’s administration decided to replace a sport class with a science class to compensate for the absence of a teacher. About half of my classmates rejected the decision (they liked their sport), refused to enter the class and stood outside in protest.
I had never seen the school’s administration more nervous. That negligible act of rebellion compelled the headmaster to come and speak to us personally, armed with what I’d call the Baathist tools of coercion. “I know that most of you are good people,” he told us, “but I want you to point out to me the subversive student among you, who I know is an ikhwanji (a pejorative term that refers to a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood organisation).
“If you do not, I will have to call the Political Security (a branch of the mukhabarat, with an office adjacent to the school)”. That sentence was powerful enough to make us return to class, without uttering a word.
I’m reminded of that defining day on the schoolyard as I watch the world try to make sense of the absurdity of the Assad regime today, and its answer to any form of dissent by calling Syrians “mundasseen” - infiltrators.
Syrians raised under this regime know that taking to the streets to call for the government’s downfall is the very definition of audacity. Syrians do not need to be told by media what the regime is capable of or how it behaves when it is confronted. They also do not need to be told to fight until the end because they know full well the regime kills and tortures in times of calm, as it does when it is embattled…
These are all stories that must be told. >continue<