By: Abdul Wahab Badrakhan
Bashar al-Assad has lessons to learn from recent events in Egypt, although he has learnt none from the bloody crisis in his own backyard. No one needs his opinions, especially when they are on the affairs of another country. But his Baath mentality and his own individual mindset led him to summon one of his newspapers to interview him about what is happening in Egypt.
He said the ouster of Egypt’s Mursi was “the fall of political Islam” and that “the Muslim Brotherhood’s governance was a failure before it even began” because this kind of rule “does not sync well with the people” and because the Brotherhood’s plans are a “hypocritical” and aim to cause “strife in the Arab world.” He added that “strife cannot continue in mature societies.”
Assad thinks that toppling the Islamist president in Egypt wins him a point in his war against the people of Syria and proves that he has been right in his strategy to deal with the unrest by murdering thousands, because his people are “immature” or because his governance is one that “is in sync with the people.” This alone is enough to realize that he has not understood anything from what Egypt has witnessed.
Assad continues to convince himself – since he is no longer competent to convince anyone – that his regime is the best and the permanent alternative to “political Islam.” He intentionally ignored mentioning the propaganda that he often repeats on terrorism and terrorists. He ignored it in order to focus on “strife in the Arab world.” The truth is that he, along with Iran and Hezbollah, continue to fuel the schemes behind the biggest strife. For a while now, he has lost the competency to speak about Arabs, their world and their interests. He has rather become a stigma to them when it comes to anything linked to humanity and morals.
It is the Arab people’s own business to deal with “political Islam” in a manner that preserves their security, stability and harmony. They don’t need lessons from any murderer whose only future will be as a fugitive or on trial or murdered. Millions took to the streets to topple Mursi’s “legitimacy.” But not a single one of them considered that he’s on the same page as Assad. Anti-Mursi protestors took to the streets, and not a single one of them got killed by the gunfire of army, police or Shabiha (thugs). Isolating Mursi could have remained a clean move if the Brotherhood had not used a style similar to that of Iran and Syria. Isolation here was a peaceful, decisive and popular decision ruling that the Brotherhood has failed.
Shedding blood and inciting civil war are the reactions of regimes that the Arab people want to get rid of for good. The experience has proven that “political Islam” is the other face of these regimes for they have persecuted the people just like they persecuted the opposition. It used “legitimacy” to do what the Brotherhood’s Supreme guide sought to do through Mursi; attempting to infiltrate the army and make it submit to “obedience and loyalty,” mislead security apparatuses and reproduce corrupt police.
I think that regimes like Assad’s do not have to recognize the facts of their societies but they can change them through intimidation and suppression. Assad’s regime has gone further than that and has adopted systematic destruction and the use of chemical weapons. And then there he is, happily lecturing about the fall of political Islam.
Between Syrian and Egyptian Brotherhoods
Until June 15, the rule of political Islam in Egypt was admired and appreciated in Damascus. Why? First, because Egypt’s Brotherhood are not like Syria’s Brotherhood. Egypt’s are after an alliance with Iran which sympathized with them when they were suppressed. But Syria’s Brotherhood members have already suggested themselves as an alternative to the Assad regime which is the most important ally of the Vilyat-e Faqih regime.
Secondly, Mursi’s regime was attempting to establish strategic relations with Tehran. His strong condemnation of the Syrian regime was nothing more than verbal criticism made for the sake of local and Arab consumption. Thirdly, Egypt’s Brotherhood had implicitly agreed on the Iranian concept of “the political solution” in Syria. The solution, of course, is keeping Assad and his regime in power “while making some concessions.” When Mursi realized that his remainder in power has also become threatened, he seized an opportunity that he thought appropriate to improve his situation.
So he addressed that miserable conference to announce the “government’s” decision to cut diplomatic ties with Syria’s regime. He’s done that although Egypt’s ambassador had just returned to Damascus upon a decision that sources linked to Cairo’s desire to play a role in the Geneva 2 conference and that other sources linked to Iranian pressures. It later turned out that it was yet another random decision to be recorded as part of Mursi’s accomplishments. After Mursi was toppled, Damascus’ stance was vengeful and full of “empty words” attributed to an “official source” as he commended the “deep historical transformation” that “represents the maturity and presence of our people (our people!?) in Egypt and their loyalty to their Arabism.”
What is certain is that Assad wanted to use the Egyptian projections on the Syrian situation, attempting as usual to address countries that support the opposition. But address them to say what? To say that he is the best “alternative?” And that he kills to block the path of power for “political Islam” which spread chaos and fears of a hidden agenda wherever it seizes power?
Time has gone beyond this issue now. Fortunately, people now stand on alert against political parties, including those disguised as Muslim one, which attempt to once again plant the seed of tyranny. As for the Assad regime, it has toppled itself with the blood it shed, the people it displaced and tampered with their lives – whether they are loyalists or opposition.
When Assad spoke as if he is the one who toppled “political Islam,” his forces along with Hezbollah members emptied Homs of its 1.5 million residents and have resumed shelling it with the intentions of ending life in it and confirming that they (Assad’s forces and Hezbollah’s) don’t belong to the Arabsim which the Syrian regime bragged about the Egyptians holding on to. There are no doubts that Assad’s happiness regarding what happened in Egypt implies an appreciation to the army that isolated the Brotherhood president – the army which the Egyptians consider as the pillar of their state, the protector of their revolution and lives and the slogan of their national unity.
But Assad and his regime did not hesitate to use the Syrian army to kill Syrians, destroy cities and shell schools, bakeries and mosques in a manner worse than what an occupying army would do. What’s even worse is that the Syrian army is being used in the Homs battle for a specific purpose: drawing up a map of dividing Syria so it has geography to bargain with in any negotiations over a political settlement. This is what no one imagines that the Egyptian army, or any real patriotic army, may possibly commit.
Abdul Wahab Badrakhan is a Lebanese journalist, who writes weekly in London’s Al-Hayat newspaper among other Arab publications. Badrakhan was a journalist in ‘Annahar’ (Beirut) until 1979, in ‘Annahar Arabic & international’ magazine (Paris) up to 1989, in ‘Al-Hayat’ (London) as managing editor then deputy editor in chief until 2006. At present, Badrakhan is working on two books. The first book is on the roots of the experiences that have motivated young Arab men to go to Afghanistan. The second is devoted to Arab policies to counterterrorism, starting with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and covering the ensuing wars.
This article was published first in al-Hayat newspaper
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