It should come as no shock then that the international community is trying to exert pressure on Syria to stop their brutal repression. Europe and the United States have both implemented sanctions and are warning of even more restrictions should the violence continue. Yet it seems that the al Assad regime ran out of fucks to give as they commenced this morning by shelling civilian neighborhoods in al Haraa, Homs, and a number of other cities throughout the country. Today it was said that because of the shelling (never mind the snipers) more than 18 people were killed, including an eight-year-old boy.
For thirteen Syrian officials, they have been restricted from travelling where within the 27 countries that currently make up the European Union. However for Bashar al Assad and his wife, there is still free rein to move about as they please. And while one brother of Bashar has been subject to these restrictions, his other brother and his daughter are currently living in Paris and attending a prestigious private American school. Their wealth has been described as “unbelievable” by those who already considered among the Parisian jet-set community.
There can be no doubt that this wealth is soaked in the blood of their countrymen. Even before the uprisings began, Syria was a place where a middle-class home may or may not have access to decent water or the basic amenities that most of the world considers par for the course for a suburban home. It’s not that the labor force doesn’t work, but that at every opportunity the wealth that is created by the labor force is leached and embezzled into the government, then distributed to the al Assad family.
Now with videos all over the Internet showing the the almost bottomless cruelty of the Syrian regime, it’s hard to look at a family that was once considered glamorous and fresh. Indeed, Vogue, who recently did a story on Asma al Assad, the wife of the president, has garnered quite a few jeers. Currently the page in which Asma is described as a “desert rose” (which should be offensive if for nothing else but it’s staggering unoriginality) gets you directed to an “oops” page on the website. While Vogue claims they were trying to do an apolitical piece, and it is true that Asma is a well dressed, well educated, modern woman, it should also be noted that the man she loves and supports has ordered the slaughter of civilians for no other crime than “criticism.” Which, in any practical sense, shows that any allusion to modernity is superficial and her commitment to living in a legitimate system of government is little more than a shiny guise she hides behind.
Asma and her own three children, who will never have to know what it is to have your living room collapse around you at 4 a.m., were said to be hiding in the Syrian consulate in London. However the consulate has denied this charge. Still, it’s hard to believe that with all the private jets they own, Asma and her children would have remained in the country. While it is her husband’s duty to keep his face in front of the Syrian Parliament, she is naturally free to roam wherever she wants in the world, spending the stolen money of her people as she goes.
Meanwhile the Syrian government is still keeping up their online offensive. Not only are intelligence and pro-government agents messaging threatening comments to Syrians and Syrian support groups on Twitter and Facebook, they have also set up their own ambiguous pages hoping to garner misguided support. There is a Facebook page entitled: The Damascus News Network that has referred to protesters as tumors and inflated any pro-democracy movement to insurgencies and terrorism. Should you feel like visiting and/or reporting such pages for advancing a system of murderous repression, the Damascus News Network can be found here.
There is little doubt that conflict will continue. However, until the government really ramps up violence in Damascus, which it seems they have specifically avoided, it is unlikely that we will see any real threat to the regime. However, certain defections are taking place, and as arms deals close and certain structures are shut off, it will not be easy for Bashar to keep up his level of brutality. The time of his father, renowned for his apathetic murder of civilians, has passed and now videos and world news jumps around the globe in seconds. Perhaps, much to his disappointment, taking out entire towns is no longer a real option.The Syrian people will press on, and they will continue to demand their freedom.