The Syrian regime is trying, in the remaining period of its rule, to tighten restrictions on speech. But that has become impossible.
Its powerlessness to eliminate anti-regime media is evident with the images and reports flowing in the Arab and Western media. This regime tried, through a regional protection network, to take advantage of the absence of live coverage in Syria and limit reports to pro-regime accounts. Yet events have escaped those shackles, even as the regime continues to try to promote itself – sometimes hilariously, other times bloodily.
Events in Syria are highly comparable to what happened in Iraq in 2003, when Saddam Hussein tried to promote the lie regarding the “resilience” of the Iraqi army, as journalists showed the collapse of his regime and the humiliating displacement his army. Soon after that, Baghdad fell in one single moment.
Reports of escapes and the mass defections from the closest circles of the regime are increasing. But neither the recent assassination of the four senior commanders, nor recent shocking defections, nor the continued bloodshed, nor the number of areas outside regime control have caused the small remaining group of people to change their illogical and immoral behavior.
The Syrian Baathist regime once dominated with tactics of intimidation that interposed barriers between us and what is going on inside Syria. But what is rapidly happening now indicates the moment awaited by everyone is approaching -- a moment of collapse.
The armed rebels have captured more than forty Iranians on the airport road in Damascus. Is there any clearer evidence of the regime’s vulnerability?
Media also escorted some relatives of the kidnapped Lebanese pilgrims to meet them in captivity. Allowing the kidnapped men to speak up and reassure their parents does not diminish the gravity of kidnapping civilians and holding them hostage. Resistance forces attempted to embellish the situation by saying the hostages were being received as guests, but the detention of somebody’s freedom is not justified whatsoever. The grip of the regime and Syrian-Lebanese intervention gave the kidnapped Lebanese the opportunity to speak and express themselves, but the situation of the kidnapped Iranians is more complex.
Meanwhile, there are estimated to thousands of missing Syrian citizens. That is another heavy tragedy! Perhaps the numerous journalists who are now able to sneak into Syria can tell us much more than we could have known before. All the cameras and phones have been waiting for the moment of truth.
The writer is a columnist at the London-based Asharq al-Awsat, where this article was published on August 9, 2012