Global Arab Network - On May 16th the London Financial Times reported that Nick Harvey the UK Armed Forces Minister said it was “highly likely” that the ICC, the International Criminal Court would seek the arrest of BASHAR AL-Assad over his role in the violent crackdown on protesters.
But Bashar al Assad is not in total control. Five men call the shots in Syria as we shall see later. The ICC must seek the arrest of the five strong men who control the President and are leading Syria into primeval hell and chaos.
The regime has called for a dialogue with the opposition but nobody believes that the regime is genuinely interested in any meaningful dialogue. Opposition figures believe it is a trick to get information about the leaders of the protests and arrest them as they have done with Fayez Sarah and Hazem Nahar among others. The regime has lost whatever is left of its credibility.
In his speech on March 30th 2011, Bashar al-Assad chose to be vague on reforms but emphatic on violent confrontation. He did not disappoint. Over 800 demonstrators have been killed by trigger happy soldiers and security operatives. President Bashar has failed to absorb the lessons of Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya. The ruling clique assumed that Syria is immune to such upheavals and the people of Syria are incapable of protesting against the dictatorship. The regime’s miscalculations increased by leaps and bounds. It mismanaged the crisis. It took the repression option and killed hundreds of people.It’s someone else’s fault:
Every time a Syrian official or a pro-government commentator appears on TV, we hear the same tune repeated over and over again. It is America’s fault, it is a Zionist plot. The Syrian President and his henchmen blamed hidden hands, infiltrators, the Mossad, the CIA, the Islamists, the Zionists, Lebanese MPs, Jordanian Elements, a Saudi Prince, Kuwaiti Salafists, Aljazeera, Alarabiya, BBC Arabic, Face book, fifth columnists, traitors, terrorists, in fact every Tom, Dick and Harry as well as every Jack and Jill are to blame except the regime itself.
The regime considers itself as the last citadel of Pan-Arab Nationalism. It claims that it is targeted by others not because of tyranny, imprisonment of writers, bloggers, people with opposing views and critics but because it supports Hezbollah and Hamas. We all know this is a fallacy as the support is merely rhetorical and verbal. The regime fails to explain why the Golan Heights are still occupied since 1967 and there is no resistance to the Israeli occupation from within Syria itself.Bunglers and deniers:
This regime is built on fear and patronage; there is no free press or civil society. Bashar is committing a fatal error as he seems to be sleep-walking into history as yet another blood-stained tyrant.
In Dera’a where the protests started on March 18th the phones, water and electricity have been cut. This is not the behaviour of a regime that has the slightest interest in democratic reforms.
The regime has committed a number of errors that would prove costly and could potentially bring the Bashar’s regime down sooner than we think. The regime dismissed the protests and upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt by announcing that Syria is not Tunisia and it is not Egypt. It also fatally ignored the popular revolts in Yemen and Libya.The regime has adopted a policy of denial. Journalists and world media is not allowed to enter Syria. Why?
Some activists argued that if Bashar was really interested in reforms, he would have dissolved Parliament and ordered the formation of a commission to prepare for Parliamentary and Presidential elections. He would have dismantled the Baathist ruling party as some opposition figures demanded. But he failed to give substance to his promised reforms. Lifting the emergency law was swiftly followed by harsh measures. This was cynical and stupid.
The regime seems unable to comprehend that massacres trigger uprisings, bloody sectarianism, external intervention, sanctions and International Criminal Court proceedings.
The choice was clear reform or repression. Bashar chose the latter. His failure to address demands for reforms resulted in more and more demands which in turn were met by bloodshed in Dera’a , Homs and other places. At this juncture Bashar has lost his credibility and no one believes him anymore.The Five who oppose reforms and who will plunge Syria into the abyss:
Some observers believe that Bashar is too weak and is not in control. He is under the tight grip of five men who are fiercely opposed to any reforms. The first is his younger brother Maher al-Assad Commander of the Republican Guards and the elite Fourth Division. The second man is Assef Shawkat, a brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad and Head of Military Intelligence and is considered as one of the main pillars of the regime. The third man is Ali Mamlouk, Special Security adviser, once described as the biggest opportunist in Syria. The fourth is Hafez Makhlouf a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad and Head of General Intelligence. The fifth man is Rami Makhlouf the billionaire brother of Hafez Makhlouf. Rami Makhlouf told the New York Times recently that the regime will fight to the end. He also warned that Israel’s security and stability depend on Syria’s own stability. This statement has put an end to the lie that the Regime is the biggest supporter of the resistance movements of Hezbollah and Hamas.
The five men are not interested in human rights and reforms. They are totally focused on power, money and survival of the regime even if this means a civil war and a blood bath. Bashar al-Assad is paralysed under their spell. They are leading Syria into the unknown.What can President Obama do?
Following the recent spectacular success in tracking and eliminating Osama Bin Laden, President Obama is in a strong position to declare the Syrian Regime as illegitimate and to offer unqualified support to the Syrian people.Global Arab NetworkNehad Ismail London based commentator on Middle East issues.