A brief and quick debunking of Assad’s eloquent defence

Assad always asks “how could I still be in power if people didn’t want me?”, when the question he should ask is how could he have lost control of 3/4 of his country if the people did not want him? He will state that this was due to a foreign terrorist invasion, yet why would that foreign invasion be so effective against an army whose Russian backing, the Syrian media routinely makes clear, matches anything the US could offer in quantity and quality and beyond? (not to mention an army of course which possesses unchallenged aerial superiority, a reality the regime has never disputed).
And if this was a foreign invasion, why would he think that the displacement of half of his population and loss of 75% of his territory is anything other than a monumental failure to defend the country against this foreign attack? And if he did not care about power as he claims, why does he not resign and give someone else “a shot” considering a reality which only a madman could consider a “success”?
And if the population in these areas were loyalists, why are there no local insurgencies against these invaders in those areas (for example in the same  form of besieged pockets of armed resistance the rebels have throughout Syria – the only two examples which exist for the regime’s side are Fua’a and Kafraya, two Shia villages in the middle of rebel territory), with instead the only loyalist opposition coming from the army and its allies advancing from other areas?
(Note: Of course therein lies the answer to what has often been pointed out, as to why the regime never brags about the sheer scale of the humanitarian disaster (refugees etc) inflicted by the “foreign invasion” and instead tries always to keep it under the surface (unlike Saddam’s Iraq under embargo for example) – because if they did brag about it this would prove the regime’s utter failure to defend the country despite being militarily unimpeded (unlike Saddam who had No-Fly Zones over his head) at best and of course, the truth at worst.)

This does not mean that any of these claims should be treated seriously, nor even that we should be paying too much attention to the person of Assad as people often make the mistake of doing. But it is to note that Assad’s own statements regularly betray the vacuousness of his narrative, as when he admits his reliance on the thousands of foreign troops fighting for him (stating that “Syria is for those who defend it”), a shameless admission incidentally for a “nationalist” leader who had spent the past 5 years stating that his enemies were all foreign extremists (even during the days of peaceful protests, the lie of course repeated by every other Middle Eastern regime, but credit to Assad’s loyal military he survived long enough to allow his mukhabarat to turn the fantasy of a “foreign jihadi” invasion into something on the ground) – or when stating  that millions within his population are providing “refuge” to the “terrorist plot” (blaming it on a society-wide “ethical breakdown” –  which presuming that was the case has been a society ruled over by his family for 40 years).

However, ultimately Assad’s a puppet and a figurehead. When Assad denies the use of barrel bombs (though he doesn’t deny the use of an airforce on urban centres inside his own country, saying “casualties are expected in war”) he may be a psychotic liar or he may not even know the full extent of what’s happening in his country. That’s not to excuse him, he is a person who would have used the same counter-insurgency 100 times even if he knew what the results would be down the line, but to state that he is not the central issue in the Syrian conflict [as the US has incidentally been trying to make out over the past 5 years, in order to limit the scope of the rebellion and potential change to a state with which it has had a stable, 40-year old collaborative relationship (yet a state with a resolutely radical and anti-colonial society, stemming from a century old Arabist tradition), which is why incidentally that Syrian civil society has since 2012 rejected the US’s “diplomatic/political solutions”, and their “there is no military solution for the rebels” bullshit, which seek to maintain the regime and sacrifice the figurehead, a la Egypt]. But it is to note that it is not Assad himself who has been willing to torture, rape, drop bombs from the sky on a 4-year daily basis and kill hundreds of thousands of people in his country, it is an entire set of state intelligence, hateful sectarian loyalists and security apparatuses. They can keep Assad if they think they’ll keep those as well.

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