Bashar Al-Assad

So the Syrian leader Assad has been turning not just guns but tanks onto innocent people. His infamy has reached new heights. Even dictators, on the whole, have some feeling for the people they have power over. Some don’t. Assad himself did sort of promise some sort of amelioration from the brutal reign & the brutal measures of his father. I don’t know, these father son dynastic things. The present King of Jordan is the son of the last King of Jordan. In North Korea the leadership seems to have become dynastic. Mubarak, was it is said, grooming his son to take over from him. Gaddafi possibly too. This business of inherited presidency is a new form of government, nearer to absolute monarchy than ideas about participatory government. Even in the USA, there is the case of the Bush dynasty.

What we don’t know about Assad is to what extent he is in fact the ruler & to what extent he is merely a figurehead. It may be the latter but somehow it doesn’t seem likely because if it were so, then surely, somebody else would have just usurped him & locked him up. But the system of control does seem to have broken down. Somehow the people have braved the guns of the state apparatus of security but what will happen now that Assad has sent in the tanks? It is hard to believe that the organs of state control will not prevail now.

Civil war in Syria is being talked about but where is the resistance going to come from? Civil wars normally start with small groups of guerrillas hiding in the hills & jungles, garnering one way & another, support for the cause from peasants & poor people generally. But it is hard to see this happening. If the protestations of the people are completely ignored & the people are mown down by tanks a là East Germany 1953, what will happen afterwards?

The infrastructure of Syria, the organs of repression that is, might well collapse. Assad at first sight, at any rate, doesn’t look like the most ruthless of leaders. It is hard to know what is going on in his head. It is bizarre that he succeeded his father as leader & bizarre that he is holding onto power with such ruthlessness when it obvious that he is not wanted.

It is likely that he will be assassinated by the Praetorian Guard & possible that somebody, possibly just as bad, will take over. Presumably in the end some sort of democracy will prevail. Probably not the sort of democracy we in the West are used to but chaotic continuous revolution which ends up we know not where.

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