The Assad regime in Syria has survived for 40 years dominating the country and the regional politics in two ways: a subjugation strategy carried out by secret security services which kill without hesitation, and the creation of fake institutions under various popular titles. This is how it all began when Hafez al-Assad led the coup under the Baathist slogan “one Arab nation, bearing an eternal message.”
At the time, the slogan was bright and patriotic, but in fact, it was nothing but propaganda for Assad to legitimize his coup, and later his reign, killing his comrades and his opponents. Then Hafez al-Assad invented other “Arab nationalism” entities, for those who were opposed to the Baath party. When he discovered that Iran’s Khomeini regime was rallying popularity under the name of Islam, Assad created extremist Islamic entities with the help of Iran, and established the first Shiite entity in southern Lebanon, and another Sunni one in northern Lebanon, linking both groups to Iran, and among the Sunni leaders was the late Sheikh Saeed Shaaban.
Exploiting the Palestinian cause
There is no doubt that Assad was the one who had exploited the Palestinian cause the most, followed by Iran, jeopardizing the region’s people and imposing his supremacy under the pretext of liberating Palestine. Both parties were the ones to abuse Palestinians’ rights the most and use them to dominate Lebanon and the Palestinian forces, and then strike at the Arab regimes that opposed them. In fact, they have never threatened Israel.
Those who were shocked today by the acts of Ahmed Jibril and his group the “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command” (PFLP-GC), because they openly participated in the killing of the Syrian people as well as the sons of the Palestinian refugee camps in support of Assad, did not understand what we have been saying for years about our doubts and our rejection of the groups that have been linked to Iran and Syria, and previously to Saddam in Iraq, such as the “Abu Nidal Organization”. Today, those who refuse to believe what we are saying about other similar groups, will discover tomorrow something that will not please them, because all entities that have worked with the Syrian and Iranian regimes have surely soiled their hands with the people’s blood.
It is hard for people like me to believe that they are independent and at the same time, working with Assad's security apparatus. This is what we have been saying about Hassan Nasrallah and his party; when he had raised the slogans of Palestine and Lebanon, he was actually nothing but an Iranian-Syrian battalion, and if Israel wanted to eradicate him, it would not have failed. The organizations that previously developed in Damascus like the Palestinian, Turkish, Iraqi and Gulf ones, were employed under the same Syrian domination and leadership, but when some of them saw Assad’s ship sinking, they ran away just like rats escaping from sinking ships.
But what does all the above mentioned have to do with the title and Moaz al-Khatib, the President of the National Coalition for Opposition Forces and the Syrian Revolution, i.e. the man responsible today for the Syrian uprising?
When he took over the leadership of the organization, many statements and groups emerged against him; the statements were directed to the West claiming that he is an Islamic extremist who was secretly linked to “al-Qaeda”, and many other contrasting statements were issued under the Islamic, national and revolutionary names, attacking and claiming that he is an Israeli and American agent. In fact all these statements emerged from one source: the Syrian regime that has mastered misleading campaigns and forgery. This is similar to what the Syrian regime used to do in Iraq where it used to issue statements on behalf of al-Qaeda and the different national Iraqi forces, while at the same time, it was working with Iran to appoint Nuri al-Maliki as prime minister despite Iyad Allawi’s victory in the elections; this is a documented story to be told later on.
For years, Assad misled a super power, the United States, claiming he was against Islamic extremist groups and al-Qaeda. The Americans believed him to an extent that they shared with him their data; they have even sent him al-Qaeda suspects so that his security services would investigate them, while his intelligence service officers with false beards, claimed to be Jihad leaders secretly working in Syria, receiving Arab, Gulf, Libyans and other misled soldiers, and trained them to kill and lead unprecedented terrorism operations that our region has never witnessed in its contemporary history.
Assad has a timeworn experience in the “reincarnation” of groups, which he initiated in Lebanon. Back in the eighties, the regime used to train Lebanese groups to abduct Arab and foreign diplomats, and carry out suicide operations under Shiite, national and Palestinian causes. Through these violence workshops, Assad was able to control Lebanon for three decades, then Assad Jr. tried to imitate his father, so he assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 20 other Lebanese figures, to terrorize his opponents and control the entire country, only if it had not been the Achilles’ heel. Hariri was the weakest Lebanese leader military wise, because he had no militias; nevertheless, his death became the beginning of the end, so the fire that was ignited by Assad in Lebanon and the region, extended and reached into Syria as we are witnessing today.
We should say to those who are engaged by the Syrian revolution and its millions of sympathizers, that they should not judge a book by its cover. There are jihadist and national groups that are fake or infiltrated: they aim at dismantling the revolution’s huge rally, and turn the rebels’ weapons against each other, so the Syrian people will be preoccupied by discord and sedition for many long years and Syrians will wish to go back to Assad’s days.
We have to realize with this huge amount of evidence that Assad is not irresponsible, as some like to describe him, and that he knew for more than a year now that his regime will eventually fall but he refused to step down before destroying Syria and its tolerant and reconciled society, and before igniting the civil war between the rebellious people, in the name of religion, identity, history and conflicting individual interests. Those who accuse al-Khatib of being an agent are nothing but fake revolutionaries employed by Assad to crush his opponents.
*This article was first published in Asharq Alawsat on Jan. 5, 2013. Link: http://www.aawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&article=711813&issueno=12457
Abdelrahman AlRashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq Al- Awsat where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq Al-Awsat’s sister publication, Al Majalla. Throughout his career, AlRashed has interviewed several world-leaders whilst his articles provoked worldwide recognition and has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly-regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.