The speech was labeled as a strategy and plan of action for the new Syria. It was called “Assad’s Doctrine” in an attempt to imitate the famous speech by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to the Russian parliament in 1999. That speech, of course, was called “Putin’s Doctrine.”
It was an obvious attempt to place the catastrophe that is Bashar Assad in the context of Vladimir Putin’s strategy and the current regional polarization. Obviously there is no comparison between the weak and insubstantial Assad and the dangerous and frightening figure of Putin, the man who saved Assad from the fall and kept him in power despite all the massacres he committed.
Disregarding the speech itself and the Syrian media propaganda that accompanied it, the dilemma lies in one crucial fact. Despite the deaths of up to 500,000 people, thousands injured and millions displaced, none of these crimes could trigger a global consensus to topple this regime.
In his speech, Assad said that the Syrian society today was more “homogeneous,” a description that he has used repeatedly in the past few months. That clearly shows that he has decided to permanently exclude refugees and all those who have been forced to flee Syria during this sectarian war that he himself created. According to Assad, Syrian society today is more harmonious, pointing unmistakably to the obvious sectarian demographic change. He appears to be saying that now a few million people have gone, it will be much easier for him to seize control over Syria.
When delivering his speech, Assad took into consideration that the American Nazis see him as a role model, Israel does not want his departure and the European and American right wings are relying on him to defend the Christians of the East. He also enjoys the support of the European and American left wings, who believe that he is standing resolute against imperialism. Before all this, he took advantage of his opponents’ weakness, and the inability of the international community to draft a single resolution putting an end to his crimes.
The unanimous agreement of world governments to give Assad a free pass, when they agree on little or nothing else, is a paradox: such a dispensation has been granted to no other tyrant. In a cruel and unfair world, where international trials are failing, we will keep on witnessing the killings of more Syrians, without being able to take any serious action.
Syria’s president has attached himself to the Russian president’s coat tails, but he is a weak and insubstantial figure compared with his idol.
We have all followed the Syrian revolution since its outbreak six years ago. We have seen those who promised to remove Assad from power, whether through political or military means, and listen to their silence now. American ambiguity has prevailed after all. The Americans said Assad “cannot be part of Syria’s future,” but then went back on everything they said. Moreover, some Arab countries abandoned the Syrians, and not for the first time. The world agreed on Assad, but disagreed on mercy and justice.
While the Assad regime is “democratic,” “secular” and “open-minded,” according to its own propaganda and the claims of the regimes that support it, its media wages lame attacks against the opposition abroad. The paradox is that Assad has no problem with foreign countries that are “respectful and have values, like Russia for instance and not the US, the coal mining country,” as his slavish media put it.
Populism mixed with hostility against the West have become the trademarks of the new phase of Assad’s propaganda and diplomacy, in which he appears to be looking east. He points to the victims of terrorism in Barcelona and Finland, part of what he believes is the vanishing Western world, and says: “They are paying the price of their stupid Western policies.”
Let the international community accept the fact that they have abandoned the Syrian people and turned a blind eye to Syria’s biggest crime of all: Bashar Assad.
• Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary producer. Twitter @dianamoukalled