Assad must go, but he must go in handcuffs

August 30, 2012 7:27 pm4 commentsViews: 12

Taylor, Ben Ali, Gaddafi, Saddam, Saleh and Milosevic were all once in similar positions to Assad. Zaid Belbagi looks at their downfalls, and sees which departure could apply to the Syrian ruler.

Beyond the universe of Tehran and Beijing the international community is of the consensus that the Ophthalmologist-turned-butcher, President Bashar Al Assad, must go. However little thought has been given to how his rule will come to an end. Will it be a scramble to load riches on to a private jet en route to a palatial retirement somewhere in the Gulf? Or will the International Criminal Court have the chance to try and sentence the Levant’s answer to Adolf Hitler?

1 À la Taylor

Charles Taylor appeared on TV in 2003 to the famous last words of ‘I’ll be back’. In fact he never did go back to Liberia. Rather, after a five-year painstakingly long judicial process he was recently convicted and duly sentenced by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) at The Hague. In Assad’s case, similar proceedings would be a just and broadly acceptable outcome for the Syrian people and the international community. The escalation of violence in Syria and the blatant war crimes that have been committed render an exit without judicial consequence impossible.

2 À la Ben Ali

Mrs. Assad’s penchant for Harrods Online and her recent Vogue magazine debacle suggest she suffers from the all-too-common venal tendencies of a dictator’s loved one. The exit of the Tunisian President was cushioned with the theft of some £36 million worth of gold and cash by his wife. Ben Ali, now in and out of a coma somewhere in a villa on the Red Sea, has not answered for any of the violence committed under his name. However, in the case of Assad the GCC’s total vehement opposition to him makes any offer of sanctuary highly unlikely. The rumoured home built for him in Qatar offered during the calmer situation of 18 months ago now seems a distant offer of diplomatic good will. The bigger question, therefore, is would North Korea, Zimbabwe, Iran or any other in the list of rogue republics offer sanctuary to a fleeing Assad? If this is the case, how will the international community respond?

3 À la Gadaffi

The violent surmise of the Libyan leader was synonymous with his decades of repressive rule. Similar to Assad in attempting to hang-on to power for too long, Gadaffi became first a fugitive, then ultimately a gory YouTube sensation in his final moments. Through similarly exacerbating civilian calls for change by using disproportionate air power to conduct mass killing, Assad stands to suffer the same fate. Should he continue to bunker himself-in, the rebels, already fighting in Damascus, will eventually reach the confines of the Tishreen Palace and take out their bloody revenge to be recorded on camera phone.

4 À la Saddam

The Iraqi dictator’s fall, which arguably was a long-term cause in the current overhaul of Arab politics, illustrated the imperative of conducting fair judicial proceedings. Saddam had to answer for grievous crimes against his own people, this is undisputed. The subsequent show trial that took place after his capture denied many afflicted Iraqis judicial impartiality and the due process needed to make Saddam answer to the long list of crimes committed in his name. In Assad’s case, should the West continue not to intervene there is every chance that a rogue court could embark on a similar course on his capture. This would prove to be a similar failure for the ICC.

5 À la Saleh

After a violent crackdown on the Yemeni people and failed attempts to secure his departure, President Saleh was offered safe sanctuary though a GCC-sponsored exit plan. Assad’s full-scale atrocities against his people make this scenario unworkable. Assad must face justice; such an escape plan would be a further crime against the Syrian people.

6 À la Milosevic

There is no doubt that the unfinished trial of Milosevic denied his victims justice. The protracted proceedings allowed Milosevic to make a mockery of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and lessons must be learnt from this process. Where Taylor’s trial ended in sentencing, Milosevic’s repeated efforts to delay this were eventually successful when he died in custody. This experience highlighted the importance of using the institutions of international justice more efficiently so as to both right wrongs and to build the international stature of courts like the ICC in putting evil men behind bars.

It remains unclear how the Syrian conflict will end. Ideally and theoretically it would be best that a deposed Assad is brought to the ICC to answer for his crimes. So far the conflicts investigated by the ICC have been in Africa; Assad’s trial would set a precedent that Arab leaders no longer enjoy impunity. The experiences of the last decade show how such justice can be administered. It is worth noting though that often concerning the downfall of such men, ‘evil begets evil’ and where the international community stalls, an armed mob will have their recompense, through less savoury means.

Assad has to go, but he must go in handcuffs.

Zaid Belbagi

  • Nukosya

    Why don’t you say anything about regimes in gulf countries such as saudia, bahrain etc. And you’re only talking about countries which have been stressed by foreign intervention (west) politically and financially. You have pro western ideology. You must question more western countries for their crimes before writting such articles.

  • Umbookoo

    Have a look at the wider picture. The whole Syrian conflict stinks of American conspiracy. America is using Syria to put a “pincer grip” on Iran and to thrust its “Idealogy” on behest of Israel. A classic example of the tail shaking the dog! 

    This whole conflict is to divert the “Genocide” Israel has recently been committing in the occupied West bank by kicking out  nearly 5000 (FIVE THOUSAND) Palestenians  from their homes to make a “War Practice” zone. Why has this news been kept out of the press? Look at the geographic map of Syria and pinpoint where the conflict / turmoil began. NOT in Damascus!! but in the outer hinterlands very close to the borders of countries with vested interestI shall not be too explicit and leave a bit to the wisdom of those who can see through all this facade.America and rest of the Western REGIMES should look at their own set up before they go barking on the door steps of these far flung countries, we have enough of our own woes; Economic, Politcal, and Social, these are far beyond the imagination of those who just watch and read the western press!! Watch the other News Channels such as RT and Al Jazeera, then only can an informed judgement be made, instead of the one sided, biased view that the West is presenting.I don’t say that Assad is innocent but then I don’t even trust the press. These are known to portray anyone as a monster and demonize those who have lived their “use”.

  • Gareth-Sims

    This article is of interest and I I wish to raise a bit more storm. In not too recent past Ehud Barak the Israeli Defense Minister had given a very sinister statement which if anyone can recall states that “Israel should prepare for a GR0UND BATTLE”. In this day and age since when have humans been used as cannon fodder. Does Ehud realise how many thousands will be sent to their death
    .This is the whole idea, I shall now present my reasoning behind this Syrian Conflict!!! Israel was the creation of the Zionist and in their wisdom the Zionists were under the misbegotten impression that Judaism is for the WHITE Race (Where they,the Zionists came from) and to their immense dismay over the years the NON White Jews whether they were the Arab Jew or the Falasha Jew or Indian Jew, they have increased in the population and this is not taken kindly by the Zionists, who wanted not the Holy Land of Israel but a play area for themselves, as this has back fired to a degree, they are now hatching a plot whereby they can kill two birds with one stone. They are seeking an armed conflict and they will send in the “foot soldiers” who are none other than Non White Jews, these poor souls will be fed to the slaughter house, the world will feel sorry for Israel and, The Zionists will sit and rub their hands in glee as they not only managed to RID themselves of these “Jewish Soldiers” but also gained sympathy for their JEWISH STATE  Israel should not forget the fact that Hizbollah stood to the “might” of the WORLDS 7th STRONGEST” army in Lebanon and gave them a GOOD HIDING thus dispelling the myth that their (Israel ) army is strong!!

    To use this Syrian conflict for their end is Haven sent but someone should seriously think of the repercussion this is going to have. 

    Talking about the ICC when will the ICC have enough courage to get Tony Blair and George Bush Indicted for the illegal war these two conspired to perpetrate against Iraq!!! The Two B’s should be dragged into this court kicking and creaming for they are guilty as hell and it shocks me to note that the Western Media has FORGOTTEN all about these two Bandits!! 

  • Musa

    The Arab Spring has been an absolute disaster for the people of the Middle East, it’s difficult to think of one positive consequence in real terms.

    Countries which have got off lightly have experienced economic crisis, mass unemployment and poverty like Egypt and Tunisia. Others, like Libya and Syria, have seen the complete destruction of the nation state and genocide.

    The ‘Hang the Kaiser’ propaganda myth born in WWI, the idea that you cast a figurehead in the role of ‘dictator’, and blame all subsequent problems on this figure, and then justify any policy in his pursuit, is well and truly alive when I see articles like this.

    The Arab Spring is the continuation of the ‘War on Terror’ by covert means, ie. destroy the modern nation state and throw the Middle East into chaos.