Saturday, 26 September 2015
Bashar al-Assad is still the problem
"Last Wednesday it deployed more than 103 barrel bombs; one every 14 minutes. Similarly last May, more than 40 people died in a single strike when a bakery in Manbij was targeted in this way.
These victims are not collateral damage caught in the fog of war. The Syrian regime has repeatedly and deliberately conspired in killing some of its most vulnerable citizens. In May 2012, forces loyal to President Assad stormed the town of Houla and massacred 108 people. A United Nations report found that almost all had been subject to “summary executions” among them, 49 children under the age of 10. Some had their skulls cracked open through blunt force. Others were stabbed to death.
The heroic British aid worker, Dr Abbas Khan, who worked in a field hospital in Saraqeb, also documented the sadistic rituals of Assad’s regime after falling into their hands. “My detention has included repeated and severe beatings, largely for no reason other than the pleasure of my captors,” he wrote. The day before he was due to be released, Dr Khan was murdered by the Syrian regime. Like Khatib, his emaciated corpse was covered in cigarette burns.
The idea that the Assad regime’s violence is somehow morally or strategically different to that of jihadist actors in Syria has become fashionable among some sections of the Western media. Perhaps a symptom of fatigue or sympathies forged during time spent as guests of the regime, mainstream commentators such as Patrick Cockburn and Peter Oborne have been at the forefront of this trahison des clercs.
According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, 95 per cent of all civilian deaths in the conflict have come from the regime. The refugees now fleeing to Europe do so as a direct result of Assad’s policies.
Any attempt to rehabilitate him within the international system would be as morally bankrupt as recognising Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a legitimate head of state. Framed in that way, it should be obvious that the cure to Baghdadi’s murderous pathology does not lie within the Baathist poison."