Photo: Gabi Menashe
Smadar Peri
Photo: Gabi Menashe
Syrian President Bashar Assad
Photo: AP

Open letter to Assad

Op-ed: People no longer fear regime, blaming protests on Mossad won’t save Syrian leader

Hello there, Bashar Assad:


You must have figured out that we are following the situation. Indeed, you are making an effort to ensure that no information makes it to the outside, while enlisting your security arms’ fists of steel to the cause of shutting out the media and erasing the images. However, the phones are still working, and your people learned to use Lebanon-based addresses to post online. Also don’t forget that foreign diplomats in Damascus are providing reports around the clock. They are recounting, for example, what your security people are doing in order to portray Deraa as the only trouble spot, where “thugs,” “Mossad agents” and “terrorist gangs” are working against you.


Indeed, according to what we are told, the demonstrators do not yet dare to chant that they want you out. Yet should you continue to hide, you can trust them to say that too. Both you and I know that the fear obstacle had been broken. If it’s important for you to stay in power, immediately convene a press conference. Give the cameras a friendly stare, speak to your people, and convince them that the leader finally intends to deliver on the pledges he made in recent days.


True, you dispatched thousands of soldiers, yet the protestors – who have almost nothing to lose – tricked you: You sent your security forces to the squares, yet they appeared from the remotest alleyways. The first night, we received rather difficult images of oppression in the most unexpected places. Even in your own stronghold, Latakia.


The fact you sent Buthaina Shaaban to speak on your behalf is very bad. When one’s situation is shaky, nobody will buy into the pledges made by an advisor. It’s also futile to order the newspapers to write about “parades” and publish images of “supporters.” Your people are not dumb, and these are not parades, but rather, protests against you. For the time being they’re only chanting “freedom,” but soon you’ll hear them yelling “the people want to bring down the regime.” Should we remind you of what happened in Tunisia? And where’s Mubarak now?


No friends left

The young generation, who’s heading to the streets at this time, was born into a state of emergency. From your time in London you must have learned that there is no enlightened state that adheres to emergency laws for 48 years. You need to give the people hope. They are already realizing that the security arms knock on the doors of protestors and throw them into prison. They say you’re holding 4,000 political prisoners in jail.


I know one of them, a Palestinian woman from the territories who went through hell in the women’s prison. One day she’ll speak out against you. Soon you’ll discover that even the prison guards are rebelling against you.


Let’s take stock of who your friends are now, those who will come to your aid once the uprising spirals out of control: The US Administration has a score to settle with you over the mercenaries you smuggled into Iraq, to kill Americans. They believe nothing you say and tie our hands every time someone talks in favor of peace with Syria. The French despise you because of the Hariri assassination. They also heard from your former deputy, Abdul Halim Khaddam, horror stories about your late father’s conduct, and also about you. The Saudi royal family hasn’t spoken to you for years. Turkey? Come on.


So who’s left? That’s right, the ayatollahs in Tehran. Trust me, they already earmarked a successor for you.


Last month, you boasted that there will be no riots in Syria, because you did not infuriate your people via a peace treaty with Israel. You must agree with me that it’s a rather pathetic argument. Now you’re accusing Mossad of organizing the protests against you. What a great excuse.


Listen, Bashar, the ground is shaking, you woke up late, and you’re offering too little. Make an appearance immediately and don’t stutter. If it’s important for you to stay (we don’t care, we got used to you…) declare a real war on corruption, call off the emergency state, free prisoners, fire the security chiefs who make decisions without consulting you, and mostly listen to your people. If you promise them a dignified life, they’ll let you stay.



פרסום ראשון: 03.27.11, 22:01
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