I'd like to hear from you. What do you think should happen to Syrian President Assad?
Several years ago, I wrote about Bashar Assad's attempt to intervene in and halt the covert war that Western and Arab foes were waging against him through Lebanon. At the time, I predicted that he was despotic enough to extend his war against Syrian citizens into Lebanon.
One OSINT source I use is DEBKA and it contained numerous reports from military sources that disclosed Assad was sending Lebanese army commanders direct orders to cut arms, money, fighters and medical supplies to the rebels, especially in Homs. At the time, Chief of Staff Gen. Jean Kahwagi was given a crude ultimatum from Damascus: "Take care of the Syrian rebels’ backers in Tripoli, or else the Syrian army will enter Lebanon and do the job".
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Then (going back several years), a spontaneous flare-up of armed hostilities ignited in the mixed northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. The various armed groups and sects in Lebanon were at each other’s throats, and I felt that Assad would take advantage of the chaos. Chaos, indeed, reigned between the local Alawites who sided with Syrian ruler Assad and the Lebanese Army on the one side and the separate, Sunni groups led by former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, his Al-Mustaqbal and Salafite militias were on the other.
At that time, two horrendous explosions killed 55 people and injured almost 400 in Damascus and shortly after, Bashar Assad’s allies went into frenetic action. For example, Tehran ordered its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah to open up its arms stores and run quantities of weapons and military equipment across the border to the Syrian army and started organizing a security camera network for Damascus.
I read open source reports from analysts who studied Syria's insurgency, its murderous response to protesters, and President Bashar al-Assad's psyche. Their conclusions were that things could worsen and an attack on Lebanon was not out of the question.
The concentrated power in the Syrian regime also made me think a Syrian extension of its war into Lebanon was not out of the question. Syria's population of over 21 million is controlled by a select few. Key decisions are made between Bashar al-Assad and a small circle of his security advisers, ministers, and senior members of the ruling Ba'ath (Arab Socialist Renaissance) Party. This small inner circle dominates all three branches of government. Oh, did I forget something? It also rules its populace with an iron fist.
And, it makes sure that free and open elections do not happen. After reading open source reports from a myriad of human rights organizations, Assad was confirmed president in 2007 for his second seven-year term in a "yes or no" referendum. According to all reports, the referendum was neither free nor fair in the eyes of local and international human rights advocates. All citizens' attempts to change the Syrian government were brutally repressed by the Assad's security forces through arbitrary and unlawful killings, politically-motivated disappearances, torture and physical abuse, imprisonments and wanton detainment of innocent civilians.
After reading the reports, my appreciation for our Western governments and due process increased. I worshipped Thomas Jefferson and the other brilliant designers of our Constitution even more. The substantiated reports I read of Syrian security forces arresting and detaining individuals under horrible conditions without due process infuriated me.
Assad's police held people under lengthy pretrial and incommunicado detentions. Not difficult to do when Syria's judiciary is not independent, as is our Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, several high-profile members of the human rights and civil society communities were imprisoned...or disappeared, and severe restrictions were placed on freedom of speech and press, Internet and academic freedom, freedom of assembly and of association.
My freedom-loving, western democratic mindset grew unsettled when I uncovered more open source documents revealing severe restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and on the freedoms of religion and the right to move around freely. The entire country was on a form of house arrest.
Meanwhile, corruption permeated the government, violence and national discrimination against women, Iraqi refugees (including children), the Kurds and workers' rights was incessant. The trouble is, all the despotic actions perpetrated by the Syrian regime that I uncovered several years ago and have listed so far...all continue today. Oh, I forgot...add to the list the use of chemical weapons to kill thousands of men, women and children.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the online spy series "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean". His views are his own and do not represent any organization he is a member of.