Bashar al Assad: wear a good suit and deny everything

Assad has once again shown himself incapable of any recognition of reality


Anyone who has followed the Syria war in any detail, even from a secure distance in the UK, will have seen things they would rather not have seen. Photographs of tortured, starved, lacerated, or burned bodies; images of children with limbs gone, or jaws half blown off, or heads completely blown off.

For me, the presence in memory of these indelible images made the thought of watching Assad calmly answering questions on the BBC as unsettling a prospect as watching a YouTube clip of the aftermath of a marketplace bombing.

We know the routine by now: a book-lined office signalling a stable, secular, civilised, Western-friendly leader. A good suit signalling a man we can do business with. And then deny everything.

Deny the Human Rights Watch reports, the UN reports on barrel bombs, on chemical weapons, on the blocking of food aid, on the blocking of medical aid. Deny every single thing.

Jeremy Bowen politely challenged Assad with a series of reports of regime crimes. He quoted from a Human Rights Watch report of 30 January saying that Assad’s forces “deliberately and viciously attacked civilians in opposition-held areas” using indiscriminate weapons, most notoriously barrel bombs. Assad dismissed it as a “childish story” denying that the regime uses barrel bombs or any other indiscriminate weapons. (7:25)

Jeremy Bowen persisted, citing Staffan de Mistura, United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria, on the “constant fear of barrel bombs.” Assad continued to deny the regime targeted civilians saying “there is no logic in it.” (8:51)

Jeremy Bowen refused to accept Assad’s denial of barrel bomb attacks, saying “it does happen,” and asked why he doesn’t stop such attacks to improve his international standing. Assad continued to deny even the existence of barrel bombs. (10:35)

Jeremy Bowen asked him about the recent OPCW report on chlorine attacks. Again Assad not only denied responsibility for the chlorine attacks, he seemed to even deny that there had ever been any chemical weapons attacks in Syria. (11:36)

When Jeremy Bowen asked about civilian neighbourhoods under siege by the regime, Assad denied that any civilians are present in those neighbourhoods. (19:28)

When Jeremy Bowen pointed to the regime restricting medical supplies to civilians in rebel-held areas, citing Elizabeth Hoff of the World Health Organisation, Assad denied it, saying the regime supplies ISIS-held Raqqa with food and medical supplies, so why wouldn’t they supply other areas? (20:38)

Jeremy Bowen quoted a statement to the UN Security Council by Valerie Amos, head of UN OCHA, on the regime’s blocking of a majority of UN aid convoys to besieged areas. Assad called it an “unrealistic un-objective statement,’ saying “we cannot discuss it as fact, this is part of the propaganda against Syria for the past four years.” (21:18)

Is there anything said by a Western leader that he agrees with? Is there any reporting on Syria that he agrees is true? Here are two things he clearly liked hearing from the West…

Assad: “Obama answered your question when he said few month ago that waiting for or depending on what they called the so-called moderate opposition was a ‘fantasy’.” (5:10)

Assad: “Even in the Western media now they are talking about the ISIS and Al Nusra and Al Qaeda affiliates organisation and groups prevailing.” (5:38)

Obama’s miserable “fantasy” comment, made in contradiction to his own declared policy, should shame him as it is spewed back from Assad’s mouth. It should shame Obama just as should his narrow intervention against ISIS when Assad is the party that continues to be by far the biggest killer of Syrian civilians.

In this interview Assad has once again shown himself to be incapable of any acknowledgement of responsibility, of any recognition of reality. He is not someone the West can do business with. The greatest fantasy on Syria has been the hope that diplomacy could trump force. This war can’t end as long as Assad is allowed the means to slaughter at will.

On the 22nd of this month it will be three years since journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik were killed by Syrian regime shelling in the siege of Baba Amr, Homs. According to fellow journalist Paul Conroy, severely injured in the same attack, the media centre they were staying in was deliberately targeted by Assad’s forces bracketing their shellfire in order to achieve a direct hit.

And on the 22nd it will also be one year since the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2139, which demanded amongst other things an end to sieges of civilian areas, an end to shelling of civilian areas, and an end to air attacks on civilian areas, including an end to barrel bombing.

Every 30 days since the passing of UNSCR 2139, the Secretary General has been required to report to the Security Council on compliance. Every report has listed ongoing sieges, ongoing shelling of civilians, ongoing air attacks on civilians.

UNSCR 2139 ended with the Security Council expressing “its intent to take further steps in the case of non-compliance with this resolution.” Since then Russia has made clear it will block any substantial measures to enforce compliance. The Security Council is in a similar position as it was over Kosovo in 1999, having made demands but being unable to pass a vote for enforcement of those demands.

One year on from the passing of that resolution, individual permanent members of the Security Council now need to recognise that there is no prospect of a diplomatic solution with Assad. Consequently there is no prospect of relief for civilians unless they follow the Kosovo precedent and take responsibility to enforce Resolution 2139.

Kellie Strom blogs at Air Force Amazons and tweets here

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49 Responses to “Bashar al Assad: wear a good suit and deny everything”

  1. robertcp

    Unfortunately, the priority has to be defeating ISIS. Assad is a brutal dictator but he would not still be in power if he did not have some support.

  2. swat

    Always reminds me of Basil Fawlty, but not as mad. With Assad and Gaddafi and Saddam gone, prepare for the balkanisation of the Middle East, and petty shiekdoms, and warlords ruling the roost, puppets of Saudi Arabia on one side and Iran on the other.

  3. CGR

    Well with a choice of Assad or the islamofascist Islamic State, I know which is the least worst option !!!!

  4. Guest

    Ah yes, those Heros of yours.

  5. Guest

    Yes, of course you support Assad and his Islamists.

    I’ll chose to view both you and IS supporters as extremists, of course – Chlorine Bomb CGR.

  6. Ziad A. Fadel

    I am Syrian. You are not. I support Dr. Bashar Al-Assad. If you want to know anything about savagery, look no further than your miserable island – your bejeweled kingdom of murder. Our army fights to preserve the unity of our country. I am proud of my nephews who serve in our Syrian Arab Army. You are the terrorists who quote HRW, a now-disgraced tool of U.K. propaganda funded by George Soros. Stop your lying. That’s why you only have 4 comments so far whereas SyrianPerspective has hundreds of comments per day. Long live secular Syria.

  7. Peem Birrell

    Tony Blair: wear a good suit and try to justify everything

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, I’m sure you’re very proud of terrorising people who once called themselves Syrians, and who are now refugees. You support Assad and Hezbollah, your favoured Islamists, against other Islamists.

    The FSA does indeed need to be supported – against you.

  9. Paul J

    He wants us to enforce Resolution 2139. Which menas doing a Libya on Syria, bombing the government unntil al qeada are ready to take over.

    Only the profoundest bloody idiot could think this is a good idea. But then the author is the only person I’ve ever seen willing to defend the war in Libya in the present time. Everyone else, even the likes of David Aaronovich have gone all quiet on that particular geo-political catastrophe.

    We need opinion formers who are capable of learning from their mistakes.

  10. Arriz

    Assad is a deluded psychopath.

  11. Arriz

    Yawn. The usual racist narrative yet again. Get over yourself you pathetic bigot.

  12. Charbel Baroud

    You’ll find that the vast majority of Syrians desire to see a No-Fly Zone enforced over Syria. With Assad dropping barrel bombs, scud missiles and chlorine gas over civilians on a daily basis since 2012, who can blame them for asking for protection.

    But of course, Assad’s slaves will always stand by their man, no matter how many lives he’s destroyed.

  13. Charbel Baroud

    IF you really are Syrian, clearly you’re a slave to the regime. You’re either a brainwashed fool who’s so cut off from the outside world that you actually believe the lies of Assad’s propaganda machine, or, you are part of that propaganda machine, and are posting here under Assad’s payroll in order to disseminate pro-Assad garbage. If you can’t even acknowledge that your much-loved dictatorship has been dropping bombs on civilians every single day since 2012, then you are clearly living on another planet.

  14. Charbel Baroud

    Wrong. It was Assad who, eleven years ago, financed and trained the militants that eventually re-branded as ISIS in 2013. He then facilitated their growth and expansion in order to undermine the Free Syrian Army and to eventually portray his regime as a ‘bulwark’ against extremism in the eyes of the Western powers. Jihadist extremism and radicalisation are symptoms. If you genuinely want to eliminate radicalisation, you have to eliminate the cancer that feeds it. And that cancer is the Assad regime.

  15. Paul J

    The majority of Syrian want a return to peace and normality, and to defeat the al qeada linked jihadists. Not a no fly zone.

  16. Charbel Baroud

    I could repeat myself. But what’s the point. Perhaps, if you made an effort to listen to Syrians and engage with Syrian civil society, you might realise that your pro-Assad narrative is nonsensical propaganda.

  17. Paul J

    The FSA spent years allied to ISIS, do you remember? They still ally with al qeada. The moderates within the FSa are now a tiny, near irrelevant minority, who regularly get overrun by al qeada and give up their western supplied weapons without a fight.

  18. Paul J

    The author makes a great deal out of dead western journalists, but fails to mention the vast majority of dead journalists have been killed or kidnapped by the rebels, frequently by “moderate” rebels who then sell them to al qeada or ISIS.

    Ther ais worker who death was announced today, Kayla Muller, was almost certainly seized by Islamist, non-Al qeada rebels, and sold by them to ISIS.

  19. Charbel Baroud

    Nope. The FSA were never allied to ISIS. Please do your research before making such claims. And the FSA are part of the largest coalition of fighting forces on the ground, of which ‘Al Nusra’ are not part of.

    However, if you want to use ‘al qaeda’ as your defence of Assad, you ought to know that you’re digging yourself into a hole. It was Assad who funded and trained al qaeda jihadists over ten years ago before funnelling them across the border into Iraq.

  20. Charbel Baroud

    Assad has been responsible for killing the largest number of journalists. Hundreds of Syrian journalists have been killed by Assad. And since it was Assad who facilitated the growth of ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria, it is Assad who is ultimately responsible for making Syria the most dangerous place in the world for all journalists today.

  21. Paul J

    Thanks, but I know a great deal about the war in Syria, having followed it very closely for several yerars, and I know what an Islamist apologist sounds like. Just like you.

    The revolution is over. It’s Assad versus the jihadis now, everyone who understands the situation, (and Is honest), acknowledges that.

    Incidently, your comment, written in march 2014…”I guess you’re one of those pro-Assad trolls intent on collectively smearing the Syrian revolutionary movement as ‘al Qaeda’…” doesn’t really stack up too well now does it? Bearing in mind al qeada now dominate in Idlib, Riff Aleppo, Qinetra and most of the southern front areas?

    That after overunning the SRF and Hazm in Idib.

  22. Paul J

    “the FSA were never allied to ISIS”

    I don’t know If you’re truly ignorant or dishonest, but that’s completely untrue. And likewise, the genuine “moderates” are now an irrelevent minority.

  23. swat

    Not my heros;I loathe them; its just a case of the Devil you know …

  24. Gary Scott

    He is indefensible. But why no question on how this started and who was behind it? We know that various governments are throwing money at his opposition now, but who funded it initially? Why did they want regime change, wasn’t he everyone’s best pal? Large crowds gather at ‘Independence Square’ or outside government buildings, they occupy the space, make demands etc, foreign govt leaders plead for negotiations, a sniper kills police and protestors, riots ensue, the govt is overthrown. A blueprint for regime change – by who?

  25. Guest

    You’re making excuses, then admitting you support their actions. That you’d deal with the Devil, when it makes sense to condemn all the Satanic…

  26. Guest

    Funded it? That’d be Bashir Al Assad, and his government.

    He was so frightened of the Arab Spring he launched a crackdown.

    Your opposition to what happened in other countries- to peaceful change, to the people getting fed up with tyrants and dicators, your looking for conspiracies in well-documented trends…I’m sure you “know” who’s behind Occupy as well, and those other political parties, and…

  27. Guest

    Rebels? Foreign fighters, sent by Saudi etc. when it was clear the West were not going to intervene.

    And your grasp of statistics is weak, as ever.

  28. Guest

    Where has it been said that the idea was to put you and your allies in power, you – as you admit – profound bloody idiot.

    The author isn’t defending Assad’s war, you are. And yes, you should quit.

  29. Guest

    Ah yes, the ones you’ll let live, not the millions of refugees who you hate so much…peace of the grave for them.

  30. Guest

    You can hear yourself, as you accuse others, as you try to write out the people your beloved Assad and his Islamists started the civil war with, from history, You keep saying that your lies are the only honesty.

    Keep promoting your Islamist friends, one way or the other. Sensible people condemn islamists of your stripe, or any other.

  31. Guest

    You keep making up nonsense, as ever, as you write off millions of refugees as a “tiny, near irrelevant minority”, and celebrate your buddies attacks on them and the deaths…celebrate what happens when the West doesn’t intervene.

  32. Guest

    You want to kill all the moderates, that’s not the same thing.

  33. robertcp

    That does not surprise me but it does not change my view. The priority has to be defeating ISIS.

  34. Paul J

    Leon Wolfo-something, why do you keep posting as “guest” ?

    Is it because whenever the topic of Syria comes up you end up getting beaten in debate?

  35. Paul J

    You clearly don’t understand who the Islamists are and which side they’re on. Fool.

  36. Paul J

    I can only assume you’re mentally ill, Leon.

  37. Charbel Baroud

    What is clear, Paul J, is that you are a bigot. You’ve collectively reduced Syrians to nothing more than crazed fanatics and claimed that only Assad- a brutal dictator- is capable of bringing salvation to this ‘al-qaeda’ population.

  38. Charbel Baroud

    The only irrelevant minority in Syria, is the dying clique of pro-Assad sycophants. Why else do you think the dictator has had to rely on Iranian forces and Islamist mercenaries from Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan?

  39. Charbel Baroud

    Please re-read my post.

  40. Charbel Baroud

    Which Islamists are you talking about? Hezbollah? The ‘Mehdi’ army? Shia death squads from Iraq? Ground forces from the Islamic ‘republic’ of Iran? Those Islamists are propping up Assad’s dictatorship and participating in a genocide against Syrian civilians.

    You may try to evade the fact that Assad created ISIS and intentionally empowered the Islamists in Syria. You can deny it, but it doesn’t change the facts. Assad created ISIS. Assad needs ISIS. He needs them to justify his regime’s genocide to the outside world. He needs to justify his stubborn hold onto power no matter how many hundreds of thousands he murders. The presence of ISIS and other Islamist radicals gives him the perfect excuse to sell himself as a bulwark against terror and a partner to the West.
    You can live in your fantasy bubble world and babble your pro-Assad nonsense all day long, but Assad is the one who is feeding the rise in sectarianism and radicalisation. The longer Assad clings on to power and the more civilians he kills, the more sectarianism will grow and the more radicalised people are going to become. If you are genuinely interested in eliminating Islamist radicalism, the elimination of the Assad regime is a prerequisite.

  41. Charbel Baroud

    What’s clear Paul, is that you’ve never had any interest in listening to or engaging with Syrian civil society or Syrian refugees. You comments are those of an ignorant bigot.

  42. Charbel Baroud

    A statistic provided by the Violations Documentation Centre Syria, (the most reliable and thorough statistical source on Syria):

  43. Guest

    Lord Blagger, why do you keep posting as “Paul J”?

    And I understand you want to beat me, for talking about your calls to murder millions of civilians due to your love of Assad the Chlorine Bomber.

  44. Guest

    I understand just fine, as you support the Islamists you believe are “correct”. You see opposing Islamism in general as the act of a fool…right, thanks LB.

  45. Guest

    You, Lord Blagger, once more spout off your totalitarian, far right, social darwinist crap that not agreeing with you and your love of the “right” sort of Islamist makes people mentally ill.

    No wonder you love Assad and his chlorine bombs. Do you want to use them to kill off workers in the UK so pensions won’t have to be paid? That fits your usual MO.

  46. robertcp

    I have read your post and we disagree.

  47. Charbel Baroud

    The reason I disagree with your statement is that it’s illogical. Given that Assad is responsible for committing 95.4% of all civilian violent deaths, compared to ISIS’ 2.7%,
    how can you rationally conclude that defeating ISIS takes “priority” ?
    The priority is to protect civilian lives.

    You agreed that Assad has been responsible for facilitating the growth and expansion of ISIS. If you acknowledge this, then the logical conclusion is that in order to eliminate ISIS, the elimination of the regime is a prerequisite. It is in the regime’s interest to see ISIS expand, as it undermines Syria’s indigenous revolutionary movement. If you want to see ISIS or any other radicalised group collapse, you have to eliminate the conditions that allowed them to grow. Assad’s genocide creates the conditions for ISIS to recruit and grow. Again, eliminating ISIS requires the elimination of the regime first.

  48. robertcp

    As I said, we disagree.

  49. Charbel Baroud

    You are stating something but you have no argument. Your position is devoid of logic. You say you ‘disagree’ but offer no explanation as to why. Is this merely your ego getting in the way?

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