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Bashar Al Assad Got It Right: Syria Belongs to Those Who Defend It

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Syria, Citizen Media, Politics, War & Conflict, The Bridge
A caricature by Palestinian artist Hani Abbas that reads "The country belongs to those who defend it..". Taken from the artist's Facebook page.

A caricature by Palestinian artist Hani Abbas that reads, “The country belongs to those who defend it..” Taken from the artist's Facebook page [1].

Every speech Bashar Al Assad gives proves over and again that he's become merely a spokesperson of a country where he holds the honorary post of president without having any real executive authority to actually rule it. People from far and wide know that the Syrian political decision making is in the hands of Iran and Russia. The two countries have loyally supported the Syrian regime to guarantee international interests through remote occupation — regardless of what happens to Syria as a result.

Russia earned the Syrian decision making power after vetoing every suggested UN resolution that could result in ousting the regime, or even holding it accountable for the crimes it has been committing against its people. As if this was not enough, Russia even joined the regime in punishing the Syrian people by vetoing the resolution on providing food aid to the besieged areas.

Iran owned the military power gradually, from the beginning of the Syrian revolution, by injecting the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, military experts and professional snipers into Syria. Iran also mobilized its two controlled wings, the Lebanese (Hezbullah) and the Iraqi (Abu al-Fadhal al-Abbas militia) to move into Syria and fight battles along side the Syrian army at first, and later on to take over the operations command in an attempt to exclude the Syrian army while ridiculing it; evident in the recurrent conflicts and disputes among them.

Bashar Al Assad's latest speech [2], in which he said “Syria is not for those who hold its passport or reside in it, Syria is for those who defend it“, sparked outrage among Syrian rebels who have spent the past four years fighting the regime and its thugs to free their country from a human rights and international conventions violating regime; a regime that used internationally banned weapons and starvation to subjugate rebelling areas.

Perhaps this statement was not said, or written in the speech, by coincidence or by mistake, but was in fact enforced by the decision makers as a preliminary step to legalize their non-direct rule, and turn it to a direct one in the future. Assad's words mean that anybody fighting under the big headline of defending the country will have the right to call the shots in Syria. From the regime's point of view, the Iranians, the Iraqis and the Lebanese fighting alongside the regime are defending Syria and its national sovereignty against the terrorist threat and the scheme to divide the region.

But maybe Assad forgot that Islamic factions such as Nusra Front and ISIS and others also claim to be defending the land of Levant. Those factions too have Chechens, Afghans [3] and Gulf nationals fighting for them. Would Assad then give those too the right to rule Syria? Will he still say the country belongs to them since they are defending it? Or does this new rule only apply to his allies?

Many alignments could be found in Bashar Al Assad's speech and Hassan Nasrallah's, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, which he gave last month. The most important of which was that Hezbollah will not retreat from Syria and that the Party made a decision to stay there. This alignment is so evident that the Syrian official state media [4] rarely mentions any “victory” of the Syrian army without the subsequent sentence of “backed by the Lebanese resistance (AKA Hezbollah)”. It is as if Hezbollah is now spread all over Syrian territories, and under lame excuses, the first of which was to protect the Shiite holly shrines, which nobody assaulted to begin with.

In the Zabadani battle, Hezbollah led the attack and the regime's air force and artillery destroyed the city and showered it by hundreds of random barrel bombs [5]. The rebel brigades responded by attacking the villages in which Hezbollah barricaded in Northern Syria to force the Party to retreat and ease the pressure on Zabadani. Hezbollah, backed by Iran, immediately moved to the negotiations table with the Ahrar al-Sham brigade (an Islamic brigade fighting in Syria, composed of Syrian fighters only). Ahrar al-Sham was authorized by all brigades to head the negotiations which happened with out any presence of the regime, as if this matter is none of its concerns or one that it has no saying in. These negotiations were unsuccessful, and Ahrar al-Sham resumed the attack and escalation. They justified this by [6] claiming that the Iranian negotiators suggested granting safe exit to trapped people in Zabadani in exchange of easing the attack of the Northern pro-regime villages. Ahrar al-Sham saw in this suggestion an Iranian move to change the Syrian demographics by emptying Zabadani from its original people who have lived there for thousands of years in order to house immigrant fighters from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah who have moved with their families to Syria in an attempt to settle there after four years of war.

It is worth mentioning that this was not the first time that Iran led negotiations and made such suggestions. The Homs 2014 negotiations [7], entered into with the trapped people of Homs who were besieged there for two and half years, during which they suffered immensely from starvation [8], so much so they had to eat grass and drink from the rain, resulted in people leaving their houses as part of the deal, but not being able to return despite many neighborhoods being announced safe areas. Subsequently documents surfaced proving housing Iranians in Damascus as well as Iranians ownership of many big estates; in what is thought to be an attempt to change the demographics of a country that has never, in its history, witnessed sectarian dividing or deportation.

Bashar Al Assad did not lie when he said Syria belongs to those who protect it. He actually meant that Syria now belongs to Iran and Hezbollah. The real and concealed meaning of his words which he never realized is that Syria belongs to its martyrs who die every single day in the torture dungeons of the regime [9]. It is for those who sacrifice their lives for the fight for freedom. Syria belongs to the people who were forced to carry arms to fight a murderer who bombs his people with barbaric barrel bombs every day.

All this was because they told him “No”… Glory for he who said “No”.