In ruins, Syria has 50 years of Assad family rule

BEIRUT (AP) – On November 13, 1970, a young Air Force officer from the coastal hills of Syria carried out a bloodless coup. It was the latest in a succession of military acquisitions since independence from France in 1946, and there was no reason to think it would be final.

Yet 50 years later, Hafez Assad’s family still rules Syria.

The country has been in ruins since a decade of civil war, which killed one and a half million people, displaced half the population and wiped out the economy. Entire areas have been lost to government control. But Hafiz’s son, Bashar Assad, who lives, has an undeniable hold.

His rule, half of which was spent in war, is in some ways different from that of his father — relying on allies like Iran and Russia to introduce Arab nationalism, with a chronic kleptocracy rather than socialism. The tools are the same: repression, rejection of compromise and brutal bloodshed.

Like the Castro family in the Kim dynasty of Cuba and North Korea, Assad has attached his name to his country in the way some non-monarchical rulers have done.

It was not clear whether the government wanted to mark the 50-year milestone this year. While the anniversary has been marked with pomp in previous years, it has been a more subdued celebration during the war.

“There can be no doubt that 50 years of the Assad family’s rule, which has been brutal, ruthless and self-defeating, has left the country which can only be broken, failed and almost forgotten,” Neil Quilliam, a fellow partner said. In Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa program.

“Beastly behavior”

After his 1970 takeover, Hafez Assad consolidated power. He held key positions of his Alawite sect, a minority in Sunni-dominated Syria, and established a Soviet-style single-party police state.

His power was absolute. His power of attorney – or intelligence officer – was omnipresent.

He turned Syria into a powerhouse in the Middle East. In the Arab world, he received honors for his uncompromising position on the Golan Heights, a strategic high ground he lost to Israel in the 1967 war. He continued to engage in US-mediated peace talks, sometimes to soften, only to soften the Americans to pull back and ask for more territory.

In 1981, in Iraq’s war with Iran, he supported Saddam Hussein and launched a coalition with the Iranians against the entire Arab world that would help save his son later. He supported the US-led coalition to liberate Kuwait after the 1990 invasion of Saddam, to which Americans owe it.

Former US President Bill Clinton, who had met Assad several times, wrote in his memoir “My Life”, “He was a ruthless but talented man who had once wiped out the entire village to teach his opponents a lesson.” ”

Clinton was referring to the 1982 massacre in Hama, where security forces killed thousands to crush the Muslim brotherhood.

The massacre is one of the most infamous in the modern Middle East, sparking another revolt against his son years later.

“Assad has been a key element of the regime’s existence: no compromise domestically, exploiting geopolitical changes at the regional and global levels, and waiting for our enemies,” said Sam Dagger, “Assad or we country Burn: A Family’s Power Destructed Lust for Syria. ”

Challenges and challenges

Bashar Assad borrowed much from that playbook after his father’s death in 2000. Unlike his father, critics say he repeatedly missed opportunities and went too far.

First hailed as a reformer and modernist, Bashar, a British-trained eye doctor, opened the country and allowed political debate. He quickly retreated with the challenges that began after the 11 attacks in the US and the rapidly changing world.

He opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, worried that he would move forward. He allowed foreign fighters from his territory to enter Iraq, provoking a rebellion against American occupation and angered Americans.

He was forced to end Lebanon’s long domination of Syria after Damascus was convicted for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Nevertheless, he strengthened Lebanon’s relations with Hezbollah.

Like his father, Bashar Assad elevated the family to increase his power – a younger, more modern generation, but was seen by many Syrians as more cruel in raising funds..

The Assad family’s biggest challenge is the Arab Spring rebellion that swept the region, reaching Syria in March 2011.

Initially their response to peaceful protests was to provoke the security forces to drive them out. Instead, protests escalated, later turning into an armed rebellion supported by Turkey, the US and Gulf Arab countries. His soldiers broke to pieces.

With the fall of his army, Assad opened up his territory to the militants of Russia and Iran and their nearby territories. Cities developed. He was accused of using chemical weapons against his own people and killing or killing opponents. Millions of people fled to Europe or beyond.

For a lot of the world, he became a resident. But Assad portrayed the war as a choice between his state and Islamic extremists, including the Islamic State group. Many Syrian and even European states became convinced that this was less evil.

Eventually, it effectively eliminated the military threat Against him. He is sure to win next year’s presidential elections in the husk that has been shattered in Syria.

Nevertheless, Dagher said that the war changed Syria in irreversible ways. An economic downturn and growing pains can change the stones.

“An entire generation of people has awakened and will eventually find a way to take back the country and their future,” he said.

As the US election result rolled in, showing Joe Biden the winner, trolling the memes by the Syrian opposition, mocked how Assad has now boycotted nine US presidents since Richard Nixon.

“In my life, my fellow Syrian had to vote four times for the only president on the ballot… Hafiz Assad. His son is still the president. After my stay in the US, I voted for six different presidents, “wrote Syrian-American doctor Zaheer Sahol of Chicago, who left Syria in 1989. I want my homeland to one day see free elections.”

Quilliam said that Hafiz Assad’s legacy might have looked different, but he did not let Bashar succeed.

“It would not be favorable, but Bashar’s legacy would carry Assad’s legacy forward and make it synonymous with cruelty, the devastating destruction of a great country and the cruelty of a beautiful people,” he said.


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