America’s “Dirty War on Syria”: Bashar al Assad and Political ReformBy Prof. Tim Anderson
Global Research, December 04, 2015
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It should go without saying that the internal political processes of a sovereign country belongs to the people of that country, and no-one else. Nevertheless, as Washington insists on a prerogative to determine who can or cannot lead another country, some background on Bashar al Assad and the political reform process in Syria might be useful.
We find little reasonable discussion of either, in western circles, after the Islamist insurrection of 2011. Instead, the wartime discussion descended into caricatures, conditioned by ‘regime-change’ fervour and bloody war, of a bloodthirsty ‘brutal dictator’ mindlessly repressing and slaughtering his own people. None of this helps sensible or principled understandings. Fortunately, there are a range of Syrian and independent sources that allow us to put together a more realistic picture. If we believed most western media reports we would think President Assad had launched repeated and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including the gassing of children.
We might also think he heads an ‘Alawi regime’, where a 12% minority represses a Sunni Muslim majority, crushing a popular ‘revolution’ which, only in later years, was ‘hijacked’ by extremists. A key problem with that story is the President’s great popularity at home. The fact that there has been popular dissatisfaction with corruption and cronyism, fear of the secret police, and that an authoritarian state maintains a type of personality cult, does not negate the man’s genuine popularity. Even most of his enemies admit that. We have to look a bit deeper. (…)