Most of us have heard the story of the emperor’s new clothes, bought at great cost and paraded with great vanity until a small boy – with no political axe to grind – pointed out that they did not exist.
The story brings to mind the position of President Bashar Assad of Syria. Although the timescale remains unclear, go he must and go he will; only the president himself seems unaware of that certainty.
In recent days the press has exposed myriad chinks in his armour, from his overt sentimentality and lack of regard for his countrymen, to his wife’s insensitive and profligate spending, but none of these things separates him from a host of other world leaders: it is his loss of any grip on reality that sets him apart from the rest.
His strongman father Hafez held a firm rein on power in Syria by mercilessly crushing all those who threatened his rule. His first born son Bassel was trained to take over his father’s mantle but predeceased him in a car crash in 1994, putting the less worldly, little-known ophthalmologist, Bashar, in the hot seat.
From what we have seen during recent months it is becoming increasingly clear that the ‘men in suits’, who were always in the background during the glory years of Hafez, have since moved centre stage. Bashar is little more than a puppet, his strings being pulled by those determined to continue to feather their own nests in whatever ways remain open to them, until the time is ripe to flee, at which time Bashar will be left to wander the empty corridors of his Damascus palace until the angry hoard descends.
Obviously, as president, Bashar must take responsibility for the carnage on Syrian streets but this is no Hosni Mubarak or Muammar Gadaffi we are dealing with.
Since his father’s death in 2000, Bashar has shown repeatedly how weak, facile and out of touch with his people he is. He has simpered and tittered inappropriately in parliament, issued nonsensical statements and launched paranoiac tirades against those who dare to question his motives and methods.
Former UN chief Kofi Annan’s attempt to end the bloodshed was always going to be a non-starter and, given Russia and China’s political stance, a UN Security Council demand for foreign military intervention remains unlikely. Meanwhile, the bombs and bullets continue to claim an escalating number of lives and will likely do so until someone is prepared to step up to the plate and point out that the emperor is, indisputably, butt naked, and take him away.
Bashar Assad is out of touch with his people
6 The Middle East April 2012 It’s about so much more than the money!
EmilioAmbasz,world-renownedArgentinianbornarchitect,ispassionateaboutreconciling hisworkwithnaturearoundtheworld– “greeningoverthegray”ishisaim.
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