The Dictator that Secretly Wanted to be Hated

Although thankfully it isn’t always like this (events, good & bad, come and go). Today seems like a rather sombre note in this multifaceted fractal-tinged MENA Revolutionary symphony, with all its amazing social, communal, and cultural advances and wounds sustained from the inevitable oppression, particularly vis-a-vis Syria. We learnt that Hassan Hassan, a much-loved Palestinian artist from Yarmouk, Syria, died under torture in Assad’s cells. Additionally, a British orthopaedic doctor, Abbas Khan, who left his south London home this time last year in order to help treat Syrians in need and was detained by Assad’s thugs within 48 hours of entering Aleppo, was also reported dead this week by the Syrian authorities. The circumstances of his death aren’t known but are certainly not difficult to infer. Assad’s forces had apparently previously told his mother, who had been in Damascus for the past few months in order to be closer to her son, that he would be released this week.

It also happens to be the 3rd anniversary of Mohammad Boazizi’s self-immolation, the young Tunisian salesman whose tragic act of desperation set off waves of defiance through Tunisian society that culminated in a full-blown revolution, and which sparked similar movements in neighbouring countries, including Syria.

I wonder if Assad’s forces, long driven to primal lunacy by craven bloodlust, are aware of the significance of today’s date? Whether or not they are is ultimately irrelevant, for these latest killings of wonderful, magnanimous men driven by the desire to help / work in solidarity with their fellow humans can only point to one inevitable conclusion: it’s an attempt by a sociopathic little coward, his uninteresting bloodline, and the few remaining cohorts he has left to try and remain relevant. To try to show Syrian citizens, and the world, that they’re still valiant warriors on the battlefield, that they’re still a ‘player’ in this sinister, deliberately engineered civil war.

Well, Assad and the various transnational groupings whose favour he still aspires to curry can have their apocrypha of the current military conflict so gleefully fetishised by Western mavens as ‘the Syrian civil war’. Indeed, this conflict will pass, as all global strife eventually does. And it will be forgotten.

But Assad & his forces know the bitter, monumental truth, one which is facing them from all angles and which are obviously driving his militias sick with fear; the fact that the Syrian revolution and its fundamental transformation of social, communal, cultural, and hell, even religious spaces, relationships, and modes of organising has long ceased to be about him. Indeed, opposition to the dictator was only a small sliver of the resistance to begin with. Whether Assad falls tomorrow or another 3 years from now he barely leaves a mark on this process; the transformation and the development of a new society is already underway. And it will continue long after he has gone, not just the process of cleaning-up and restoring human welfare, but also the creation and fomenting of new ideas, communities, forms of governance, social relationships, and transformation of public spaces. Indeed, the revolution started off as demands for reforms, dignity, and earnest requests to not be humiliated. Assad wasn’t even mentioned! But the revolution with its local councils, solidarity / aid initiatives, cultural composition, art movements, civil organising, and entertainment avenues through burgeoning Syrian media have evolved way past the initial stage of demonstrations against Assad and his regime. Just one glance at this amazing hub of creative expressions from the Syrian Cultural Revolution will tell you that.

Bashar Al-Assad is so catastrophically incompetent he couldn’t even manage to make a country hate him properly. From the streets of Aleppo, to the revolutionaries of Yarmouk, to the dorms of Raqqa’s college, people are moving beyond the myth of the tyrant and are steadfastly rebuilding their country to the best of their ability. Independent shows such as “3 Star Revolution”, “Freedom Wa Bas” and countless indie documentaries don’t make him the focal point. Banners and slogans cease mentioning individuals and start alluding towards principles and visions of a better society. They’re not even talking about him, and it is this fact, and not sustained overtly articulated opposition to his rule, that strikes the utmost fear into the core of this vicious network of armed gangs and their mercenary proxies. Indeed, what else could explain Assad’s preferred choice of targets for the regime’s most brutal forms of genocidal savagery, meticulously reserved for warm-hearted comedians, children, humanitarian doctors, and explicitly non-violent activists? Assad is telling us what has been known to Syrians all along, but is just now dawning on him.  Too bad he’s so late to the punch. The people have long moved past him.