Keeping up with the Al-Assads

October 31, 2011 5:33 pm0 commentsViews: 3

Ribaal Al Assad, with his European accent, crisp suit and CEO for the Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria; does not look like the member of one of the most brutal regimes in the Middle East, the Al Assad’s of Syria.

Having recently led a speech to a lecture hall of students in London, he spoke of democracy, Syrian sovereignty, and also his woes of being a victim of the regime since his branch of the family were banished in 1984. Beyond the mundaneness of his pre-scripted speech, there is fevering opposition against this Assad too.

The organiser of the event, had received death threats from Syrians more than willing to castigate Ribaal for the actions of his father, Rifaat Al Assad, also known as the Butcher of Hamaa. During the question and answers segment of the evening, Al Assad had managed to straight out deny his father’s involvement (as well as claiming to possess proof) in the massacre of Hamaa; a bloody slaughter of 40,000 Syrians which took place in 1982. It is well documented that Rifaat Al Assad personally overlooked the operation and has also been fluid in the discourse of the current Syrian uprising. Moreover, he is a known supporter of the Saudi ruling family, he has provided arms to Shi’i factionalists during the Lebanese Civil War, and American think tank Stratfor, suggested he was a possible suspect for the 2005 bombing that assassinated ex–Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the bombing in Beirut after Syria withdrew troops, of course, with the ultimate goal of destabilising Syria and the Al Assad regime.

Claiming the desire for a democratic Syria, whilst defending an obvious war criminal, not only is oxymoronic, it puts into question Ribaal Al Assad’s political agenda. Ribaal Al Assad works closely with his father at the Pan-Arab TV Channel, the Arab News Network (ANN), which the family owns. This suggests that Ribaal Al Assad is an obvious mouth piece of his father’s political aspirations, Ribaal Al Assad, neither charismatic nor presidential, is not a politician. His father, estranged by his brother Hafez, and later ousted after a failed coup, reflects his vengeance against the regime through his younger son, a man of no more than thirty six, who should steer clear of politics, and student lecture halls.

Steffani Rodriguez

Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East