Comments Off on The roadmap to nowhere: how Assad is trying to steal the Syrian revolution

The roadmap to nowhere: how Assad is trying to steal the Syrian revolution

We’ve seen how Bashar al-Assad packages Big Lies for the West’s consumption: look at his blatantly false suggestion that the Syrian revolution, now in its fourth month, was the handiwork of terrorists. Shockingly, however, his lies are often swallowed whole.


When Assad sent 200 tanks, a fleet of gunships and thousands of Army regulars to Jisr al-Shughour in early June, the story every Western media outlet ran with, more or less uncontested, was that 120 Syrian security personnel had been killed by “armed gangs”. Later, that story proved to be bogus.

Testimony revealed that a Syrian colonel led a small contingent of mutineers and locals who fought back against the military. Their sole purpose was to hold Jisr al-Shughour long enough to allow its residents to flee to Turkey.

Even now, The New York Times’s Anthony Shadid – who is based in Beirut – writes about “restive” Syria or armed “insurgents”, theories that are backed up by anonymous White House sources who can’t substantiate their claims. Dennis Kucinich and Brooks Newmark have fallen for this trap, too. (Kucinich didn’t have to fly to Syria to learn that “when things finally settle down… President Assad will move in a direction of democratic reforms.”)

Assad is his father’s son. He realises that selling propaganda to the West is easy enough when you’ve got a US administration that wants you to remain in power. It’s doubly easy when you won’t let journalists come and see what’s happening for themselves.

Yesterday a highly suspect document appeared on the Guardian’s website. It alleges that the United States has backed a “roadmap” for democratic transition in Syria (the US denies it), but one that would leave Assad in power. Signed by Louay Hussein and Maan Abdelsalam, members of something called “the National Action Committee”, this 3,000-word paean to appeasement is a strange read. It devotes a whole section to so-called “political intellectuals” – not an element spoken of on the ground in Syria or relied on by the Local Coordination Committees. And it allows for Assad himself to lead the transition to civil democracy.

The roadmap also contains the following recommendations:

– Streets demonstrations ought to be coordinated by local governates and attended by security and military forces “for protection and protection of public and private property”. Death squads, in other words, will have metamorphosed into a Committee of Public Safety.

– “Stop the media war waged by the state institutions against protesters and demonstrators and opponents of the authority, abandoning its role as a party in the conflict.” If this were to happen, then the United States – and Assad himself – would have acknowledge a simple fact: the Syrian people are united in wanting Assad gone.

– In particular, Assad mustn’t “impede the filing of legal complaints against ‘Ad-Dounia’ channel for its inflammatory role against Syrian groups and personalities, and explicit calls for violence and inciting sectarianism.”

This is bizarre. Louay Hussein, as even as The New York Times’s Shadid acknowledges, is one of the “prominent dissidents” in Syria who are “respected but speak largely for themselves”. Tellingly, however, both he and Abdelsalam chaired a 150-member conference in Damascus that was convened with “official” regime approval. That conference was welcomed by the US.

Does the US State Department need telling that any opposition conference that Assad allows to go on in his capital is not one that reflects the will of the Syrian people?

I’ve been in touch with one Damascene, who told me: “I tried to enter the hall and they kicked me out.” Palestinian-Syrian dissident Saeed Barghouti was also denied entry.

The astute oppositionist Ammar Abdulhamid explains:

The gist of the campaign currently orchestrated by the Assads and their propagandists focuses on blaming Dounia TV, owned by Rami Makhlouf [Assad’s cousin, who has resigned from his business holdings as another misbegotten salve to the opposition], for inflaming sectarian sentiments and spreading lies about the protesters, while state-run media, including Syrian TV and SANA, as well as semi-official media, including Day Press, begin running stories and reports sympathetic to the protests, as we see here and here.

The resignation of Rami Makhlouf, his departure from the country, and the recent opposition conference can now be put into perspective, everything makes sense now. The plan for containing the Revolution and keeping things as they are with some decorative changes here and there is now unfolding. Bashar, Maher, Assef and Boushra, and most other members of Assad family, not to mention their security goons supervising the current crackdown, will be saved. The regime will, in essence, survive with minimal casualties.

Filed in: World News

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