Thursday, 8 September 2016
Yassin al-Haj Saleh: "We must bring Assad to justice"
'Syria is not a simple dictatorship. It has all the features of what I call "the modern sultanate. Bashar al-Assad behaves like the owner of the country and its people. By its geographical position, Syria occupies an essential place in geopolitics, so many powers such as Russia, Iran, the United States and Israel prefer to keep the status quo. No foreign force has seriously supported the population during the uprising.
Since 2011, not a day has passed without women or men killed by the regime. This government enjoys a form of impunity, it seems even rewarded for his actions. Revolutions can be beaten, put down, but in Syria, the entire population is crushed. The situation is complicated with the presence of jihadist forces I describe as "nihilistic": they have given Syria an image particularly repellent to the international powers.
The plight of the opposition stems from several things: Syria has not experienced a normal political life for nearly a half century. During the long reign of Hafez al-Assad, an entire generation of political activists spent most of their lives in prison; they did not share the daily life of the Syrians nor were they able to develop a political strategy. The repression continued with the arrival of Hafez's son in power. After the very start of the uprising, all the young hopeful revolutionaries were jailed or killed; there were tens of thousands of deaths between 2011 and 2012. The driving forces of the uprising were left paralyzed. The uprising became the act of disunited groups, often isolated from each other by their attachment to regional forces.
Like Tunisians, Egyptians, Yemenis, the Syrian people had no support for their uprising but each other. Assad launched the slogan: "It's me or nothing." The Western powers have believed this without trying to seek a viable alternative. They look at Syria as a geopolitical position, not as a people claiming freedom, dignity and citizenship.
No revolution in the world has created a perfect new society overnight. Take the example of France, it took years of struggle, change, and civil wars to achieve relative political stability. How can anyone imagine that Syria can overthrow a despot and straight away build perfect institutions after fifty years of harsh dictatorship? How can we easily and immediately move to a democratic republic? We defend the idea of a transition; it is necessary that the Syrian social forces get used to living, to discussing, to exchanging ideas together, before to build a new Syria. Assad has made Syria a political desert. It is impossible that it becomes a leafy garden in one or two years.'